A Quantitative Test of Critical Heterosexuality Theory: Predicting Straight Identification in a Nationally Representative Sample

Tony Silva*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Using Add Health, a US-based nationally representative survey, this study predicts the likelihood of identifying as straight among (1) individuals who reported same-sex attractions and/or sexual practices and (2) among those who reported neither, given that many respondents nonetheless identified as something other than straight. It also (3) predicts the likelihood of changing one’s sexual identity to heterosexuality across survey waves. Weighted logistic regression identifies political conservatism and religiosity as predictors of straight identification and changing to a straight sexual identity, even after controlling for attractions and sexual practices. The results suggest that individuals with same-sex attractions and/or sexual practices do not identify as straight simply because of limitations of well-known sexual identities (straight, bisexual, gay/lesbian), given that Add Health offered more nuanced options, such as mostly straight. Instead, the results suggest that non-sexual social factors, such as religiosity and conservative political attitudes—themselves shaped by patterned social forces—are keys to heterosexual identification and heterosexual identity change. This paper offers the first quantitative test of critical heterosexuality theory using a nationally representative sample, suggesting that the approach is theoretically generalizable beyond qualitative studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-366
Number of pages14
JournalSexuality Research and Social Policy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2018



  • Critical heterosexuality
  • Heteroflexibility
  • Heterosexuality
  • Sexual fluidity
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual identity development
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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