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Psychol Sci. 2015 Dec;26(12):1843-53. doi: 10.1177/0956797615598617. Epub 2015 Oct 23.

Homosexuality as a Discrete Class.

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Department of Psychology, Washington State University
Department of Psychology, Washington State University.
Department of Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi.


Previous research on the latent structure of sexual orientation has returned conflicting results, with some studies finding a dimensional structure (i.e., ranging quantitatively along a spectrum) and others a taxonic structure (i.e., categories of individuals with distinct orientations). The current study used a sample (N = 33,525) from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC). A series of taxometric analyses were conducted using three indicators of sexual orientation: identity, behavior, and attraction. These analyses, performed separately for women and men, revealed low-base-rate same-sex-oriented taxa for men (base rate = 3.0%) and women (base rate = 2.7%). Generally, taxon membership conferred an increased risk for psychiatric and substance-use disorders. Although taxa were present for men and women, women demonstrated greater sexual fluidity, such that any level of same-sex sexuality conferred taxon membership for men but not for women.


NESARC; latent structure; sexual orientation; taxometric analyses

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