Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female

Sexual Behavior in the Human Female


Originally published in 1953, the material presented in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was derived from personal interviews with nearly 6,000 women; from studies in sexual anatomy, physiology, psychology, and endocrinology. The study revealed the incidence and frequency with which women participate in various types of sexual activity and how such factors as age, decade of birth, and religious adherence are reflected in patterns of sexual behavior. The authors make comparisons of female and male sexual activities and investigate the factors which account for the similarities and differences between female and male patterns of behavior and provide some measure of the social significance of the various types of sexual behavior.


It is the function of the National Research Council as an agency of the National Academy of Sciences to further in all feasible ways the development of science and the extension, perfecting, dissemination, and useful application of knowledge of natural phenomena. Thirty-two years ago when studies of sex were virtually taboo the Council created a special committee to initiate, organize and financially support the study of problems in sex and reproduction. During its long and active existence the Committee has sponsored and partially supported scores of investigations, including several longrange and long-continued programs of research. Among the best known of the Committee-supported projects have been studies in the field of endocrinology, where the discovery of hormones and their functions has proved of extraordinary importance. the Committee has supported studies in the sexual behavior of infra-human mammalian species, laboratory investigations of the neurologic bases of sexual behavior, some anthropological studies, and several case history studies of human sex behavior, including the Hamilton study which it sponsored in the late 1920’s, and the studies made by Terman and Miles, and by Landis and Bolles in the late 1930’s.

From the first the Committee sought an opportunity to initiate and support such human studies. But human sexual behavior is much more difficult to study objectively and scientifically than are reproductive mechanisms and processes. However skillful and wise, no investigator in this field can escape inhibiting and discouraging circumstances. the success of Dr. Kinsey and his corps of colleagues in meeting and overcoming these difficulties has therefore been notable. His project stands unique in its scope, methodological skills, degree of objectivity and history of progress and achievement.

It was in 1940, three years after he had begun his task, that Dr. Kinsey first applied to our Committee for financial aid. After preliminary inquiry, a small initial grant was made for 1941. During that year we gathered pertinent information about the institutional auspices of the project and by personal visits and interviews sought bases for an appraisal of Kinsey as a scientific investigator, his plans, his program, and his method. the inquiry was exceptionally thorough and painstaking because of the scope and the prospective demand of the undertaking for large resources of wisdom and tact, professional skill, energy, time, and funds. Assured by the outcome of the inquiry, we rapidly increased the annual allotment, and over the years the Committee aid has amounted to almost half of the total budget for the investigation.

From its inception in 1938, this project has had the staunch and generous support of the administration of Indiana University. Otherwise its rapid development, its expansion, and remarkable degree of success would have been impossible.

Now in its fifteenth year, the project has had to meet and resolve many problems of operation and some determined opposition; but in some respects . . .

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