Ritch C. Savin-Williams's research while affiliated with Cornell University and other places

Publications (114)

Article
Sexual and romantic orientations and identities exist along a spectrum with varying degrees of compliance to traditional concepts of sex and romance. Recent investigations have focused on individuals who are not exclusive in their sexual and romantic lives—mostly straights and mostly gays/lesbians. Multi-disciplinary research reveals the diversity...
Article
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The degree to which bisexual-identified individuals are distinct from either heterosexual or homosexual individuals in their sexual orientation is an ongoing debate. We examined potential differences between these groups with respect to a strong correlate of sexual orientation, gender nonconformity (femininity in males, masculinity in females). Acr...
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Significance There has long been skepticism among both scientists and laypersons that male bisexual orientation exists. Skeptics have claimed that men who self-identify as bisexual are actually homosexual or heterosexual. (The existence of female bisexuality has been less controversial.) This controversy can be resolved using objective, genital res...
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Purpose of Review To critically assess the prevalence, mental health, and heterogeneity of bisexual men and to highlight their inextricable linkage with each other Recent Findings When an inclusive definition of male bisexuality is used, prevalence rates increase from the standard 1 to 2% to a more accurate 10 to 20%. Previously documented physica...
Article
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Recent evidence suggests it is useful to distinguish sexual identities among young men at the gay end of the spectrum because of group differences between primarily gay, mostly gay and gay orientations on several assessed physiological, behavioural and self-report measures. However, little is known about individuals’ rationales for choosing sexuali...
Chapter
Effective therapy with lesbian and bisexual women and gay and bisexual men is best realized when clinicians are aware of the unique developmental challenges that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) individuals experience. This chapter considers these elements and highlights their potential impact on the psychotherapy process. Given the recent upsurge...
Article
Kinsey argued that sexuality exists along a continuum from exclusive attraction to one sex or the other, with degrees of gradations of nonexclusivity in-between. Other than bisexuality and, recently, mostly heterosexuality, possibilities within the nonexclusive spectrum are seldom investigated, especially among men. In two studies presented here, a...
Article
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This exploratory study assessed physiological, behavioral, and self-report measures of sexual and romantic indicators of sexual orientation identities among young men (mean age = 21.9 years) with predominant same-sex sexual and romantic interests: those who described themselves as bisexual leaning gay (n = 11), mostly gay (n = 17), and gay (n = 47)...
Article
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Pupil dilation to explicit sexual stimuli (footage of naked and aroused men or women) can elicit sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual response. If similar patterns were replicated with non-explicit sexual stimuli (footage of dressed men and women), then pupil dilation could be indicative of automatic sexual response in fully noninvasive...
Article
Bailey et al. (2016) have provided an excellent, state-of-the-art overview that is a major contribution to our understanding of sexual orientation. However, whereas Bailey and his coauthors have examined the physiological, behavioral, and self-report data of sexual orientation and see categories, I see a sexual and romantic continuum. After noting...
Article
Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth have multiple developmental trajectories that consist of a number of milestones, the order and timing of which vary across individuals. After considering the deceptively simple constructs of who is gay and how many nonheterosexual youth exist, we review what is known about early feelings of being different from peer...
Article
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young people experience a variety of developmental trajectories that consist of milestones, the sequence and timing of which differ across individuals. They include early feelings of being different from peers, the onset of same-sex attraction, questioning one's sexuality, first same-sex sexual experience, recogniti...
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Studies with volunteers in sexual arousal experiments suggest that women are, on average, physiologically sexually aroused to both male and female sexual stimuli. Lesbians are the exception because they tend to be more aroused to their preferred sex than the other sex, a pattern typically seen in men. A separate research line suggests that lesbians...
Conference Paper
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Reported gender differences in genital response to preferred and nonpreferred sexual stimuli may be confounded by the fact that frequently used measures differ for men and women. Moreover, women’s non-specificity in their sexual responses is less common in homosexual women; similar to men, they can be specific in their sexual response to preferred...
Article
Sexual orientation is typically assumed to be independent of factors such as personality. Although this is probably accurate for heterosexual and homosexual orientations, personality may play a role in bisexuality. It was hypothesized that bisexuality is potentiated by personality traits that allow sexual behavior to occur independently of sexual r...
Article
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We reviewed whether mostly heterosexuals, a sexual orientation group characterized by a small amount of same-sex sexuality, differ from heterosexuals and bisexuals on a variety of mental and physical health outcomes (e.g., internalizing problems, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, obesity, sexual/reproductive health, physical health), heal...
Article
This exploratory study investigated the nature of sexual orientation (categorical or spectrum) by assessing the relative ability of sexual and romantic indicators to be predicted by sexual orientation labels. Young adults from a variety of community and college venues (N =292) reported their sexual orientation label on a 9-point scale; from a 10-it...
Chapter
Although the raw number of adolescent romantic and sexual involvements is well documented, the actual experience and meaning of these relationships for adolescents receives little attention. As a result, these relationships are frequently classed together on the basis of surface similarities, despite important structural and functional differences....
Article
In this essay, we argue that researchers who base their investigations of nonheterosexuality derived from reports of romantic attractions of adolescent participants from Wave 1 of Add Health must account for their disappearance in future waves of data collection. The high prevalence of Wave 1 youth with either both-sex or same-sex romantic attracti...
Chapter
All adolescents have sex lives, whether they are sexually active with others, with themselves, or seemingly not at all. The question is whether they are going to have healthy experiences, at any or every level of sexual activity. (Ponton, 2000, p. 2)
Article
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Recent research suggests profound sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual response. These results, however, are based on measures of genital arousal, which have potential limitations such as volunteer bias and differential measures for the sexes. The present study introduces a measure less affected by these limitations. We assessed the pup...
Article
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Both a same-sex sexual orientation and gender nonconformity have been linked with poorer well-being; however, sexual orientation and gender nonconformity are also correlated. It is, therefore, critical to investigate their independent contributions to well-being. Based on survey responses of 230 female and 245 male high school seniors, the present...
Article
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A sample of 1,784 individuals responded to an online survey advertised on the Facebook social networking website. We explored the sexual orientation continuum by focusing on three components: self-reported sexual orientation identity, sexual attraction, and sexual partners. Results supported a 5-category classification of identity (heterosexual, mo...
Article
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Based on date from Wave 3 and Wave 4 from National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (N=12,287), known as Add Health, the majority of young adults identified their sexual orientation as 100% heterosexual. The second largest identity group,‘‘mostly heterosexual,’’was larger than all other nonheterosexual identities combined. Comparing distrib...
Article
Cases of lesbianism, homosexuality, and bisexuality can be traced back to the preadolescence and adolescence stage of development. Psychological research not only increases our knowledge and understanding on sexual identity but also gives voice to many young people who are sexual outcasts in society. This chapter reviews the concept of sexual ident...
Article
Few developmental transitions during the adolescent years receive as much attention - by youths themselves, their parents, the media, and social scientists - as transitions in sexuality, and there have been dramatic changes over the past 50. years in this domain. This article provides a comprehensive review of current social scientific knowledge ab...
Article
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The link between adolescent sexual activity and psychological well-being is a controversial issue in developmental psychology. This cross-sectional study investigated the association between three aspects of teenage sexuality (genital sexual experience, age of sexual onset, and number of sex partners) and positive well-being (hedonic, eudaimonic, a...
Article
Scientific information regarding normative patterns of young men's sexual behavior is insufficient, especially regarding the impact of sex of partner. We explored the age at which 255 young adult men achieved several milestones (e.g., first kiss, manual-genital contact, intercourse) as well as the sequence of milestone achievement and stability in...
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Commenting on Savin-Williams, Cohen, Joyner, and Rieger (2010), Meyer (2010) dismissed their analytic approach as erroneous and submitted a lengthy defense of his minority-stress hypothesis. We reject Meyer’s refutation on several accounts, the primary one being that the study was not designed or presented as a‘‘test’’of his position. Despite consi...
Chapter
Sexual identity is the name and meaning individuals assign to themselves based on the most salient sexual aspects of their life – such as sexual attractions, fantasies, desires, and behaviors. Sexual identities usually fall within existing social categories, such as straight, bisexual, or lesbian/gay, and are historically and culturally specific. Y...
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Sexual prejudice is defined by Herek (2000, p. 19) as “all negative attitudes based on sexual orientation, whether the target is homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual.”
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The present chapter provides a review of some of the primary psychological issues confronting sexual minorities (i.e., individuals with same-sex attractions and relationships). Our goal is to provide a flexible set of preliminary questions that can be used to help sexual-minority clients to articulate their own idiosyncratic experiences and give vo...
Article
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Currently, little is known about heterosexually identified individuals who nonetheless acknowledge same-sex interests. To address this shortcoming, the prevalence of same-sex attractions, fantasies, and experiences among heterosexually identified college students was examined, as well as differences between those who are exclusively heterosexual in...
Article
Since the time of Laud Humphreys’ Tearoom Trade and his investigation of “covert deviants,” homosexuality has achieved both public and scientific visibility. Once considered by scientists to be a legal, moral, and mental abnormality, homosexuality is currently perceived by many scholars and youth as merely statistically deviant. This is not to deny...
Article
It is not my intent to critique individual contributions in this special issue but to assess scholarly progress since the last special issue devoted to sexual orientation in Developmental Psychology (Patterson, 1995). Because not all steps forward can be catalogued in this limited forum, I focus on several long-standing challenges faced by developm...
Chapter
IntroductionThe Importance of Intimate RelationshipsSexual Orientation and Same-Sex IntimacyMultiple Pathways of Sexual-Minority DevelopmentSexual-Minority Youths' Romantic RelationshipsOther-Sex Romantic RelationshipsWhat Counts As a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Relationship?Conclusion: Appreciating the Diversity of Youths and their Relationships
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Analyses of three waves (6 years) of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health data explored the prevalence and stability of sexual orientation and whether these two parameters varied by biologic sex, sexual orientation component (romantic attraction, sexual behavior, sexual identity), and degree of component. Prevalence rates for nonhe...
Chapter
Although youthful homoeroticism has been documented by artisans, poets, and historians for thousands of years, it was not until the early 1970s that American scientists—primarily medical researchers and mental health professionals—began systematically studying a newly recognized clinical group they classified as “gay youth.” Casting doubt on earlie...
Article
This is a rebuttal of David M. Hall's review in which he misrepresents the contents of my book, The New Gay Teenager. Only the worst of his distortions are highlighted; this is not a point-by-point refutation. A restatement of the book's true themes concludes this response. Same-sex attracted youth can be healthy, resilient, proud, and ordinary ado...
Article
Using 6-year longitudinal data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and multiple measures of puberty as it occurs and of sexual orientation (romantic attraction, sexual identity), the present study attempted to replicate previous research which reported that homosexuals and heterosexuals differed in their age of p...
Article
Naturally occurring prosocial and dominance behaviors were observed via multiple methods in four groups of adolescents. Individuals varied considerably in their frequency of prosocial and dominance behaviors, regardless of the method employed. These interindividual differences were maintained across situations and over time. The data are consistent...
Article
The present series of studies explores the relationship between two conceptions of self-esteem: the self as experienced by the individual and the self as presented to others. Traditional measures of self-esteem are employed, and two new methods of assessing self-esteem in adolescents are introduced: an observational measure of self-esteem behavior...
Article
To answer the question “Who's gay?”—and its logical follow-up, “Does it matter?”—researchers usually define homosexuality with reference to one of three components or expressions of sexual orientation: sexual/romantic attraction or arousal, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. Yet, the three components are imperfectly correlated and inconsistently...
Article
The authors examined differences in adolescents' relationships with their parents before and after adolescent first sexual activity. Participants were 13,570 members of the core sample of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Add Health) Waves 1 and 2. Path analyses examined changes in parent-adolescent closeness, shared activities...
Article
The study examined mental health outcomes for samesex attracted youth with a Christian background based on their differential internalization of attitudes toward homosexuality and gay issues that are socialized by most major Christian denominations. Data from 339 young men and 56 young women ages 13–25 who participated in the OutProud/Oasis Interne...
Article
Physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals can exert a powerful influence in support of gay and lesbian parents and their children, and of both gay and nongay adolescents and parents of teenagers in their community. We can do this by avoiding and challenging assumptions of heterosexuality in the process of clinical care for children of...
Article
To adequately understand the diversity of child and adolescent homoeroticism, a differential developmental trajectories perspective is proposed that integrates recent research about the development of sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and sexual identity. Only the latter two can be altered therapeutically. Biologic theories of homosexuality are...
Article
Researchers disagree on how to assess adolescent sexual orientation. The relative importance of various dimensions (e.g. attraction, relationships, behavior, self-labeling) is unknown, which calls into question the validity of studies assessing adolescent sexual orientation. To address this issue, 50 male and female adolescents of varied sexual ori...
Article
The purpose of this study was to provide data addressing Diamond's (this issue) 4 problem areas in sexual orientation research by comparing gay, bisexual, and questioning male youth who report attempting suicide with those who do not. Secondary analyses were conducted with 2 datasets, 1 with a gay support group (n = 51) and the other with online yo...
Article
The decision whether to disclose same-sex attractions to parents was explored through in-depth interviews with 164 young women and men. Participants were more likely to disclose to mothers than fathers, usually around age 19 years and in a face-to-face encounter. Mothers were told before fathers, largely because mothers asked or because youth wante...
Article
Two questions were addressed regarding suicide attempts among sexual-minority youths: Who should be classified as a sexual minority, and what constitutes a suicide attempt? Results from 2 studies indicated that sexual-minority youths, broadly defined in terms of sexual orientation and recruitment venue, were slightly more likely than heterosexual y...
Article
Developmental scientists should seriously reconsider traditional empirical and theoretical paradigms that narrowly define sexual-minority adolescents in terms of those who adopt a culturally defined sexual identity label. A broader consideration of youth populations who have same-sex desires but who might not necessarily identify as gay, lesbian or...
Article
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The present investigation explored gender differences in sexual identity development--first same-sex attractions, self-labeling, same-sex sexual contact, and disclosure--among 164 sexual-minority young adults. Based on interviews, results indicated the value of assessing gender differences in the context, timing, spacing, and sequencing of sexual i...
Article
This article summarizes findings from two ongoing studies charting the development of 167 adolescent and young adult sexual-minority women. Resultsdocument considerable variation in the quality, relative distribution, and context of women's same-sex and other-sex attractions. Furthermore, contrary to conventional wisdom, the timing of a woman's fir...
Article
The current research explores how ethnicity influences sexual identity development. Among 139 sexual-minority male youths, measures of sexual identity development assessed the timing and sequencing of developmental milestones, disclosure of sexual identity to others, internalized homophobia, and same- and opposite-sex relationship histories. Findin...
Article
Developmental psychologists generally have ignored the processes by which sexual-minority adolescents come to recognize themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and to disclose that information to others. One of the most critical events for sexual-minority adolescents is disclosing their sexual identity to family members. In this article, empirical...
Article
Popular culture writers have proposed a developmental sequence of stages that parents face upon first learning of their child's homosexuality. Empirical investigations of these purported "mourning and loss" stages are few and generally cast doubt on the inevitability and normative sequencing of parental reactions. We present this empirical evidence...
Article
83 gay and bisexual male youths (17–23 yrs old) completed questionnaires and a structured interview. Pubertal maturation was associated with self-reported age of 1st orgasm and homosexual activity and frequency of orgasms during junior high school. Unrelated were age of 1st same-sex attractions, sexual orientation, age of 1st heterosexual activity,...
Article
A common theme identified in empirical studies and clinical reports of lesbian, gay male, and bisexual youths is the chronic stress that is created by the verbal and physical abuse they receive from peers and adults. This article reviews the verbal and physical abuse that threatens the well-being and physical survival of lesbian, gay male, and bise...
Article
A common theme identified in empirical studies and clinical reports of lesbian, gay male, and bisexual youths is the chronic stress that is created by the verbal and physical abuse they receive from peers and adults. This article reviews the verbal and physical abuse that threatens the well-being and physical survival of lesbian, gay male, and bise...
Chapter
A forgotten, largely invisible minority in twentieth-century society is the gay adolescent. This condition is changing fairly rapidly, primarily in urban and collegiate areas, as increasing numbers of youth are claiming a sexual identity other than the heterosexual one traditionally assumed and desired by society and its agents. These gay and lesbi...
Article
The significance of the parents for the coming out process and for the self-evaluation of 317 gay and lesbian youths between the ages of 14 and 23 years was assessed in the current study. Responses from a 10-page questionnaire are analyzed, and these findings are discussed in the context of sex differences for both adolescents and parents, the impo...
Article
Based on a population of 317 gay and lesbian youths, the current investigation explores the appropriateness of a reflected appraisals perspective in predicting the degree to which parental attitudes, as perceived by youth, affects their self-esteem and comfortableness being gay. A lesbian was most comfortable with her sexual orientation if she also...
Article
Few topics in sexology elicit such a diversity of opinions and emotions as the question of etiology of homosexuality. Views frequently carry with them implicit or explicit messages concerning the psychologic health of this sexual orientation. Theories of sexual development usually portray adolescence as a critical time in the life course because of...
Article
Previous research, especially that of Gecas and Schwalbe (1986), relating adolescent self-esteem to parental support, control, and participation is extended in the present investigation, which examines the effects of parent-adolescent communication and investigates dimensions of parent-adolescent interaction that predict parents' self-esteem. The f...
Article
An ethological perspective is presented as an alternative to traditional developmental approaches to adolescence. From an evolutionary point of view, the onset of reproductive capability during adolescence marks the significance of this time during the life course. Thus, the apparent anomaly of male and female youth "preferring" not to engage in he...
Chapter
The previous two chapters have provided a qualitative account of early adolescent interactions, more characteristic of anthropologists and ethologists than of psychologists. In the present chapter I count numbers, comparing the behaviors, group structures, and status characteristcs of the male and female adolescents in cabin groups One through Eigh...
Chapter
Chapter 6 discussed sex differences in the expression of dominance behaviors and the formation of a group structure; there are also age variations in these matters and in more generic social interactions. This chapter addresses these issues by reporting on data from groups of middle to late adolescents at summer camp and of early to middle adolesce...
Chapter
Cabin power was primarily controlled by one boy and his sidekick. They felt stuck with a “nurdish” cabin consisting of an oversized goon, two losers, and a whimpy follower. When asked by the cabin counselor (SW) what would make cabin life more pleasant, they replied: “There’s no way to end the conflict except to change personalities.” There were ti...
Chapter
As a graduate student at the University of Chicago in the early 1970s it was personally comforting but professionally disheartening to realize the ease with which one could claim that he or she had read the major theoretical and empirical literature on adolescence. In the mid-1980s there are few, including myself, who would make this same claim bec...
Chapter
In this chapter the primary context for the research reported in this book, Camp Wancaooah, is presented in some detail. The camp setting as well as the youths who participated in the project are described, replacing the actual names with fictitious ones based on their final group dominance status.1 What constituted meaningful data, how and when da...
Chapter
One issue in psychology that persists despite frequent, incontrovertible research studies that purport to close the final curtain, is whether, and to what degree, various personality attributes are traits or states. If trait, then individuals will differ from one another on certain behavioral dimensions and these differences will be relatively stab...
Chapter
In this final chapter I weave together the book’s apparent disparate strands. In Chapter 1 position papers on the future research agenda for the study of adolescence were reviewed; they were found wanting because, “Predictive science begins with description” (Candland and Hoer, 1981; p. 436), and few of the agenda setters advocated such a back-to-t...
Chapter
In this chapter I trace the developmental history of my interest in the observational study of adolescent behavior, beginning with my first exposure to sociological and psychological studies of adolescents. I found them unsatisfying. My conversion to an ethological approach to issues of adolescence is then charted, focusing on several basic etholog...

Citations

... In subsequent work, these bisexual arousal patterns were also found to be reflected in brain activations in the ventral striatum . Most recently, by aggregating data across prior studies (474-588 individuals, depending on analyses), it was unambiguously demonstrated that bisexual men show greater levels of nonspecific arousal as assessed by genital measures (Jabbour et al., 2020). ...
... Note 1. A number of studies have now examined the link between gender nonconformity and sexual orientation in gay versus bisexual individuals (Lippa, 2005(Lippa, , 2008(Lippa, , 2020Rieger et al., 2020). The overall findings, both in self-report studies where bisexual and gay /lesbian males and females rate their childhood gender nonconformity, selfreport masculinity-femininity in adulthood, and occupational preferences (Lippa, 2005(Lippa, , 2008(Lippa, , 2020, as well as a studies involving blinded objective ratings of masculinity-femininity of voices and mannerisms gay/lesbians versus bisexual targets (Rieger et al., 2020), indicate that gay males and lesbians demonstrate lower levels of gender conformity compared to bisexual males and females respectively. ...
... Often practitioners were viewed as lacking knowledge about bisexuality, with some viewing bisexual behavior as 'unhealthy', thereby invalidating bisexuality as a legitimate sexual orientation (Dobinson, MacDonnell, Hampson, Clipsham, & Chow, 2005;Ebersole, Dillon, & Eklund, 2018). This can lead to increased invisibility and erasure, exacerbate social exclusion, discrimination and marginalization (la Roi, Meyer, & Frost, 2019), thus impacting negatively on mental health and well-being (Savin-Williams & Cohen, 2018). ...