My favorite asexual research

Esta entrada es una colaboración para el carnaval de blogs, que este mes trata sobre la asexualidad y el mundo académico. Escribo en inglés porque es el idioma de este carnaval.

Versión en español

I’m glad to learn that the baton of Asexual Explorations on compiling a bibliography of research on asexuality has been picked up by Asexual Research in the platform Zotero [see introduction]. This way I’ve found recent articles revisiting my all-time favorite piece on asexual research, Storms (1980). The reason I like Storms’s article is because of his bidimensional model of sexual orientation, which I’ve described previously in this blog and, in a nutshell, considers heterosexual attraction and homosexual attraction as perpendicular axes, obtaining four regions: heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality and asexuality. This model improves Kinsey scale, considering asexuality a fully legitimate sexual orientation instead of an off-scale outlier.

Recent studies revisiting Storms’s (Fernández, Quiroga & Rodríguez, 2006; Fernández, Quiroga, del Olmo, Buizza & Imbasciati, 2009; Fernández, Quiroga, Icaza & Escorial, 2012) discuss the dimensionality of sexual attraction. They formally reject Storms’s hypotheses of the independence of the axes but relying on poor data. Observing the samples of these studies, there are very few bisexuals, even as few as asexuals, so negative correlation is a necessary artifact in this case. Storms took three samples by self-identification as heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual (since the asexual category appeared as a result of the analysis) in order to prevent this artifact, so his conclusion still holds.

Nevertheless, not only did Storms (1980) establish asexuality as a sexual orientation, but also he proved the independence between sexual orientation and gender roles. I can believe that, in that time, sexual orientation and gender roles were confused even in academia, but 37 years later it seems that this working hypothesis is not gone from the popular beliefs. Even worse, since the academics in Storms’s time considered bidimensional models for gender, while the people who links gayness with effeminacy consider a unidimensional model of gender at most. This topic has been revisited by the same team that revisited the dimensionality of sexual orientation (Fernández, Quiroga & del Olmo, 2006a, 2006b), confirming Storms’s conclusion on the independence of sexual orientation and gender roles.

Another article relevant for the asexual community, though not explicitly about asexuality, is Diamond (2003), which supports the split attraction model by distinguishing between sexual attraction and romantic attraction at a biological level. According to her, these two kinds of attractions are separate biological devices, but they may affect each other. The influence of romantic attraction on sexual attraction is a ground for explaining demisexuality. This topic was revisited by Diamond & Dickenson (2012) by means of neuroimage, supporting the original conclusions and thus the split attraction model.

References:

  • Lisa M. Diamond, 2003. What does sexual orientation orient? A biobehavioral model distinguishing romantic love and sexual desire. Psychological Review, vol. 110, no. 1, pp. 173-192.
  • Lisa M. Diamond, Janna A. Dickenson, 2012. The neuroimaging of love and desire: Review and future directions. Clinical Neuropsychiatry, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 39-46.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Vanessa J. Icaza, Sergio Escorial, 2012. Dimensionality and transcultural specificity of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 323-333.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006a. Is sexual attraction independent of the instrumental and expressive traits? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 162-170.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, 2006b. Is there any relationship between sexual attraction and gender typology? The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 3-9.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Isabel del Olmo, Chiara Buizza, Antonio Imbasciati, 2009. Temporal stability and cross-national consistency of the dimensional structure of the Sexual Attraction Questionnaire (SAQ). The Spanish Journal of Psychology, vol. 12, no. 12, pp. 725-736.
  • Juan Fernández, María Ángeles Quiroga, Antonio Rodríguez, 2006. Dimensionalidad de la atracción sexual. Psicothema, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 392-399.
  • Michael D. Storms, 1980. Theories of sexual orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 38, no. 5, pp. 783-792.
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