Baikal Balkash

Asexual research: The Asexuality Identification Scale

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Recently this article was published. It is written by Lori Brotto, Morag Yule and Boris Gorzalka. In it they present a study to develop a final questionnaire to measure not sexual attraction which they call The Asexuality Identification Scale.

Note: access to the journal needed in order to get the complete article. Maybe through university or another registered institution.




2015 Edit - For future reference, here's the abstract:


A Validated Measure of No Sexual Attraction: The Asexuality Identification Scale.
Yule, Morag A.; Brotto, Lori A.; Gorzalka, Boris B.
Psychological Assessment, Nov 10 , 2014, No Pagination Specified.

Human asexuality has been described as a lack of sexual attraction toward anyone or anything. One percent of the adult population is thought to be asexual, and research suggests that asexuality is best conceptualized as a sexual orientation. A serious limitation in past research on asexuality has been the complete lack of a validated tool to measure asexuality. Due to limitations in recruiting sufficiently powered local samples, most studies have relied on recruiting via online web-based asexual communities. This is problematic because it limits the sample to individuals who have been recruited through established asexuality networks/communities. The present study aimed to develop and validate a self-report questionnaire to assess asexuality. The questionnaire was intended to provide a valid measure independent of whether the individual self-identified as asexual and was developed in several stages, including: development and administration of open-ended questions (209 participants: 139 asexual and 70 sexual); administration and analysis of resulting 111 items (917 participants: 165 asexual and 752 sexual); administration and analysis of 37 retained items (1,242 participants: 316 asexual and 926 sexual); and validity analysis of the final items. The resulting Asexuality Identification Scale (AIS), a 12-item questionnaire, is a brief, valid, and reliable self-report instrument for assessing asexuality. It is psychometrically sound, easy to administer, and has demonstrated ability to discriminate between sexual and asexual individuals. It should prove useful to allow researchers to recruit more representative samples of the asexual population, permitting for an increased understanding of asexuality.


As soon as the article will be printed, we should have access to it. Please PM me or the PT if you're interested.

Edited by ithaca
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Aww that's too bad, I wanna read it....

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This must be from that new book 56,289,437 Ways to Measure a Human Being....And Counting!

The original version apparently missed a few million.

No dis on these guys in particular; I'm just sick of this stuff and this is a convenient spot for me to let it out a little.

And I hate the method that Psychology uses to "prove" its constructs valid; seems like one hell of a feedback form of circular argumentation. Blech.

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interesting article. so they have a concern that asexuality isnt fully being researched which is a good point. They want to identify people based on the answers they give to this questionnaire they developed. They say they are confident that with these 12 questions they can discriminate between asexual and nonasexual people. They gave the survey to people from AVEN, and then the sexual people were recruited from Craigslist and facebook. To me, they complain about AVEN in the beginning of their paper and then go and recruit people from there. And even worse, just the fact that they use Craigslist! They have plenty of samples so it would be interesting to see this questionnaire. I wonder if it is accessible?

this tool will be very useful to continue evolving research that studies this area. My speculation is though, even if this plays out a century from now, is that it is still a label and is only going to be reliable if you score well on it. At the same time, if you go into it knowing you have to score something, it is easy to cater the results to whatever you want them to be (like I could go take the four letter personality test and make it say I an an introvert even if I am an extrovert)

Anyway, thanks for posting the article, I would love to see the 12 questions and what my results end up as :blink:

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Well, I don't know why asexuality should be validated by scientists. After all, heterosexuality and homosexuality are not scientifical categories either.

I mean, no one is able to describe the very precise mechanics of any sexual orientation. Besides, it would be logic to make a complete demonstration of the most common one, no ?

Moreover, each self-labeled heterosexual/homosexual/bi/ace is unique and thus, different. For example, some are sex-repulsed toward one or both genders, others not at all. It's hard to believe that every hetero/homo/bi/ace shares a similar basis.

People have the right to search potential and personal answers in science if they want. However, it would be bothering if scientifical theories or conclusions were applied to everyone.

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Moving this to world watch

AshenPhoenix, announcements moderator

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These are my thoughts as I go through the article;

"Lack of sexual attraction towards anyone or anything." Uh, where to the gain the authority to tack those last two words on? So, I suppose none of us watch pornography then, right?

Also, as the aim of this non-self identification scale is to allow access for researchers to more asexual people than only the community of self identified people, I suppose they know how to break the news to people that they are asexual? Sorry, researchers need to be more pragmatic.

Yeah, they got rid of all distress related items. Good job. Acknowledged that masturbation doesn't seem to contribute the way they thought (interstingly, asexuals had a higher mean on this than sexuals). Religion didn't load on it. Got rid of romance categories as well.

Eh, here's what you're all probably interested in; their twelve items are as follows (using a Likert scale):

1. I expereince sexual attraction toward other people

2. I lack interest in sexual activity

3. I don't feel that I fit the conventional categories of sexual orientation suchas hetrosexual, homosexual (gay or lesbian), or bisexual

4. The thought of sexual activity repulses me

5.I find myself experiencing sexual attraction toward another person

6. I am confused by how much interest and time other people put into sexual relationships

7. The term "nonsexual" would be an accurate description of my sexual activity

8. I would be content if I never had sex again

9. I would be revlieved if I was told that I never had to engage in any sort of sexual activity again

10. I go to great lengths to avoid situations in which sex might be expected of me

11. My ideal relationship would not invlve sexual activity

12. Sex has no place in my life

All in all, excpet for a slight confusion over the fact that asexuals can be sex positive, and that they might actually be lowering the scores of self aware asexuals with the wording of some of their questions, they do an awesome job. That is,10 has never came up for me, so I'd be forced to answer neutrally. More importantly, 6 manages to twist around my understanding that for other people, romance and sex go hand in hand. If anyone wants the pdf pm me your email. (My reasoning is that if they used participant from AVEN, we're all allowed to view their results.)

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I read the paper too. They say most asexuals score 40 or higher (every item is rated on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the "most asexual" end), and my score is barely over 40. There are several items I don't like:

4: Not every asexual is sex-repulsed.

6: I may not understand their feelings on a personal level, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm confused. I can still intellectually understand that sex is important to them.

7: Doesn't work for asexuals who are sexually active.

10: Like Ficulnean said, that kind of situations don't happen to everyone.

I think the best items are 2 and 8, followed by 9 and 11.

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^^ If a score of 5 equals the "most asexual" end of the scale, numbers 1 and 5 need to be reversed, no?

Anyway, adjusting them to take that factor into account (by reversing the statements), I score 48. Hrmm.

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I don't understand the need for so many questions, especailly those about sexual activity rather sexual attraction. Given their definintion of asexuality (which I agree with), the questions should be restricted to that. For research purposes, the key is then to be sure everyone has similar concepts of sexual attraction to be able to say whether or not they do experience it. Their work may have found correlations with attitudes towards sexual activity, but incorporating those into the questions could confuse interpretation of the results, and hamper rather than help understanding of asexuality (this seems to be for use in reserach rather than diagnosis).

I'm also concerned that there's no element of time in the questions. A believe a key characteristic of asexuality which makes it an orientation rather than a disorder, is its long-term nature. I think a person suffering from serious depression or trauma could get a high score without being asexual. If they only comprise a small proportion of any study cohort, that might not affect the results, but I think it's still undesirable.

I haven't been able to read the whole paper so I may be unfair in my criticism, but I am afraid this may not be as useful as it could have been. That is a shame since I think asexualtiy research is very important.

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^^ If a score of 5 equals the "most asexual" end of the scale, numbers 1 and 5 need to be reversed, no?

The scales are adjusted for every item so that 5 always equals "most asexual." e.g. for item 1, 1 = "completely true" and 5 = "completely false"; for item 2, 1 = "completely false" and 5 = "completely true". And item 5 uses an "always (1) - never (5)" scale.

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I read the paper too. They say most asexuals score 40 or higher (every item is rated on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the "most asexual" end), and my score is barely over 40. There are several items I don't like:

4: Not every asexual is sex-repulsed.

6: I may not understand their feelings on a personal level, but that doesn't necessarily mean I'm confused. I can still intellectually understand that sex is important to them.

7: Doesn't work for asexuals who are sexually active.

10: Like Ficulnean said, that kind of situations don't happen to everyone.

I think the best items are 2 and 8, followed by 9 and 11.

While I don't necessarily disagree with some of these (specifically 10), I think it's important to recognise that these diagnostic tools are made with the idea that there will be variation amongst the population being studied (i.e. asexual people). The researchers don't expect that every asexual will be repulsed or won't engage in any sexual activity, but if you encounter someone who relates to a few of these statements, then asexuality is a statistically good guess for what's going on. Conversely, it's statistically likely that an asexual will score at or above 40, but there will be exceptions.

I don't know. I think this could be a valuable tool for research in asexuality that can be inclusive of people who don't identify with asexuality for lack of information. It'd be interesting, though, to apply this questionnaire to a few subsets of aces and see if it's got any 'blindspots'.

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1 - none
2 - true
3 - true
4 - nope - I just don’t think about it - good/bad
5 - nope
6 - not confused, just don’t understd what the big deal (which it seems to be: Sex sells, really?) This definitely could be worded better. For me, not confusing - as I understd sex is a big thing for sexuals, I just don’t understd WHY they bother wasting so much time with it/on it.
7 - cant answer, as I am married to a sexual, and have sex w/him - the price of marriage to a sexual
8 - true
9 - eh, not relieved (poor choice of word, imo), but close to it.
10 - again, since I am married, sex is expected, I don’t avoid, I do when asked, but try to limit it (as I don’t or would not initiate).
11 - eh, I can take it, or leave it - not repulsed by sex, just not interested in it.
12 - repeating # 11: can take it, leave it.

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Thanks for the paper Ficulnean. I agree, overall it's a worthwhile paper. They make it clear that their scale does not completely overlap with self-identification. It's a bit frustrating that they did not do the validation, neither on an independent sample of individuals, nor of the contribution of each question to the discriminating power of the questionnaire, but that's science for you, there's a reason why there's an expression for that called "the smallest publishable unit".

"Philosophy > Sociology = psychology."

Definitely, I'd say Natural sciences >= Philosophy >> Sociology = psychology.

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