What studies would you want to see?

For discussion of general issues pertaining to asexuality.
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ily
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What studies would you want to see?

Postby ily » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:07 pm

So, I can't remember ever seeing a topic on this. Basically, what kind of scientific studies involving asexuality would you like to see? If any?

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby ghosts » Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:29 pm

Scientific studies? Hm... Only biased ones in our favor. ;)

But seriously, I'm not really sure... I haven't kept up on studies surrounding other sexualities, but sometimes they can make me a bit nervous. :/ I'll have to think about this.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Dec 19, 2008 11:16 am

What I really want to see are studies that would actually give readers a reasonably accurate picture of asexuality and people who identify as asexual. My fear is that we will have to go through a decade or so of bad to mediocre papers on asexuality before we get some actually good ones.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby ily » Sat Dec 20, 2008 4:29 pm

pretzelboy wrote:What I really want to see are studies that would actually give readers a reasonably accurate picture of asexuality and people who identify as asexual. My fear is that we will have to go through a decade or so of bad to mediocre papers on asexuality before we get some actually good ones.


Yeah, that would be lame...I feel like the ones we've had so far have been pretty good, although their methodology (if that's the right word) wasn't perfect-- like Boagaert's study using a survey that had already been done (although he is still my homeboy) and another study that only concerned something like 8 people. But it seems like their findings supported us.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Sun Dec 21, 2008 5:25 pm

The studies that have been done so far have been supportive, which is good. And the very fact that they were done gives us more academic credibility--to that extent they have been pretty good. In other ways, however, I feel that they don't give a very accurate picture of asexuality. When I first learned about asexuality, I put more faith than I should have in the existing academic work than I should have. I was unsure whether to identify as asexual since those studies seem to give a fairly narrow view of asexuality. I think that the studies that I would really like to see are ones that paint an accurate picture of the sorts of people that identify as asexual.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby wintermute » Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:12 am

The idea of studied that pick apart the human psyche & sexuality make me nervous, it's a short train ride from there to being categorised as pathological and "curable". There seems to be this overbearing need to conform, not to deviate, and as soon as anything new or different pops up the first reaction seems to be to ignore it, then try to disprove it or "prove" it isn't healthy, then grudging acceptance.

Just a simple survey or census that actually recognised that asexuality was a real option would be nice.
Cicero wrote:"Neither can embellishments of language be found without arrangement and expression of thoughts, nor can thoughts be made to shine without the light of language"

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 12:57 pm

http://www.asexualexplorations.net/home/research_agenda.html
When Ily first posted this topic, I had already written (most of) a page on exactly this topic, but I didn't want to start advertising the site until it looked a lot nicer. So I had to keep this (mostly) to myself.

I've written a list of studies that I would like to see. I'd like to know what other people think of these--do you think these would be good research topics? Not so good? Ideas on how to improve on them? Ideas for other studies? I'm curious what other people think.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby ily » Wed Feb 04, 2009 3:34 pm

I'm surprised that under "quantitative" you didn't include finding out what percentage of the population we really are. I know Bogaert found we were 1%, but didn't he later say he thought it was more? Maybe I'm just not filled in with all the information.
I think "forming an asexual identity" would probably be the most edifying of the qualitative studies. I'd worry about "maintaining an asexual identity" because people doing this study may not take into account the massive social pressure to NOT identify as asexual. If they do take outside factors into account, it could be interesting. I think the gender identity study could be interesting, but I'm not sure what it would be going for. If we're trying to find out if asexuals are more genderqueer than the general population, I think that's already pretty obvious. Although maybe uncovering hidden things isn't the point of studies, I don't know.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 5:10 pm

I think the bit about the 1% is in there somewhere, but different studies could end up finding very different results depending on how asexuality is operationally defined and how the sampling is done. (Tons of stuff on that in my super exciting "Methodological Issues for Studying Asexuality.") As for discovering that we're more gender queer than the general population, that's well known in the asexual community, but we need someone with Ph.D. (or working on one) to do an actual study to establish this. Also, I'm curious what portion of us are a) intersexed b) transexual (MTF or FTM) c) identify as agender [or equivalent] d) don't feel very masculine or feminine but don't disidentify with their biological sex either. I haven't seen anything so far that actually went so far as to include all these options, even in the asexual community. There is another reason that I want to see the gender identify study done, but...it's a secret! :shhh:

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby ily » Wed Feb 04, 2009 7:27 pm

Oh, now you've got me, why is it a secret?

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:47 pm

Because if I told everyone, it would make a confound for the research that I want to see.

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ily
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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby ily » Thu Feb 05, 2009 9:59 am

Aiiiiiiight, guess we'll just have to wait! ;)

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby Gingerbread » Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:59 pm

On this atheist website I know, the same question garnered the popular response, "Atheists are better in bed."

I'm sure this won't happen here, or maybe it will!

There are lots more things to do in bed. Cuddling comes to mind.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:20 am

Double post. Sorry, don't know how to delete.
Last edited by yam on Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Tue Mar 17, 2009 9:23 am

I haven't seen a good qualitative/narrative study on asexuality if it exists at all. This would come out of sociology or anthropology. If only I had the time and wasn't in education research. I also don't think there's money out there for this type of study in less you were in a research institute on sexuality (and I really haven't spent much time looking things like that up so I don't know how many there and if they do qualitative research).

If I wasn't at a university I'd love to do a qualitative study (because arguably I have the credentials to do this sort of research) but the IRB process at my university is somewhat convoluted and in addition to regular work is just too much right now. Though I could definitely see doing a study in a couple of years somehow related Asexuals experience of high school and would definitely be in my field. I haven't thought this out to any degree but it would definitely fit in the field of students' experience in school around sexuality and gender (think Unks, 19XX? and some newer studies/projects under works on transgendered students).

Pretzelboy, you might call this a research agenda so that people can search for sexuality and research agenda so that folks working on Ph.D.s or other researchers can use it or get ideas.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:14 pm

I'm still in the process of working out a research agenda. The website is just one of the first parts of my plans...

In our research agenda, there are some educational topics that I want to see done--especially regarding sex ed. (I have no idea how close or far that it to what you do.) In this respect, there are two main lines of questions. 1) How do existing material present asexuality (if at all)? How do they present low sexual desire? How about "erotophobia" (a concept that needs to die)? HSDD? Sexual aversion disorder? 2) What experiences do asexuals have with sex ed? How well did it meet their needs? How did it make them feel? etc. This would be a touchy subject because we've got the abstinence only folks doing their (stupid) thing. And then you've got the "comprehensive" sex ed people, so embattled just to do their jobs, that they often get low-quality teachers and lack the substantive internal criticism that is necessary to do good education. There's a lot of us vs. them action going on, and that doesn't lead to good education for anyone.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Wed Mar 18, 2009 11:12 am

@Pretzelboy - I am qualified to do that type of study but at this moment it's really not in the scope of my interest. I do 'critical' (which is totally a nonsense term so I feel silly using it but it's a word people are familiar with, I use this term to mean anti-oppressive) education research and sociological research that has the potential to impact schools. I am pretty strictly a qualitative researcher though well qualified to do quantitative studies (but they don't usually speak to my research interests).

I think the study could be worthwhile, don't get me wrong, I just don't want to be the one to do it. It might be better situated in a public health department because of their interest in health and they tend to do some of their research methods work in education or possibly a linguistics department. It also wouldn't have to go through an IRB process if you started with textbook analysis. The part requiring work with students would require an extensive IRB process because the participants would be a protected group.

I haven't spent a lot of time pursuing this line of research on asexuality. I'm busy on several other projects around teacher education, culturally relevant pedagogy, service-learning, and community/university partnerships. Most of this research will end at the end of this year. One will continue on for approximately a year and a half. At that point I can set a new research agenda for myself that could potentially include asexuality and schools. Suffice it to say I haven't thought much about what type of research I'd do yet.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:14 am

yam wrote:I think the study could be worthwhile, don't get me wrong, I just don't want to be the one to do it.

Why do you think I'm trying to recruit other people to do these studies?

I think that if I end up doing research of my own on asexuality, it will be from within sociolinguisitcs. However, I don't actually know anything about sociolinguistics, and I won't be able to fit those classes into my schedule until fall 2011, as my own research areas have nothing to do with asexuality. Also, the language and sexuality literature, at the intersection of anthropology and sociolinguisitcs, is a fairly marginal subfield of sociolinguistics as well.

As I've been trying to learn about asexuality, I've gotten lots of ideas about what studies I think would be valuable, but I'm not qualified to do them, and getting qualified to do them isn't at all the direction I want to go with my career.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:52 pm

I don't think you are recruiting other people. I was just commenting that I'm not interested in this type but I think it's a worthwhile study and didn't want you to think it wasn't a valuable study.

2011 is a long way off, are you working on a graduate degree now?

As for not being qualified I wouldn't worry about that so much at this point. The progression of research tends to be individual interest, pop culture interest (like we've had), research agendas, then literature reviews, then exploratory studies, then in-depth studies. So if you help with the pop culture form then eventually you are advancing what you really hope for.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:36 pm

I'm in my second year of a grad program in linguistics, but I'm in the part of the generative tradition that's moving into experimental methods (i.e. having nothing to do with the parts of linguistics important for doing my own research on asexuality.) I could take socio in the fall, but for various reasons, it wouldn't be a good idea. I could have taken it this past fall, but didn't.

The part of asexual visibility that I'm most interested in is specifically the academic side of things. Hence my website (in my signature.) I'm still not at the point where I'm actually able to recruit people to do studies on the subject, but I'm working on that.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:05 am

If you ever want to bounce around ideas, let me know. I'm glad you're interested in the academic side of things. While I'm interested it's not my real interest in terms of what I want to study.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Tue May 05, 2009 5:01 am

I wrote a letter to the editor to the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. If anyone wants a copy (and doesn't have a university account that lets them download it), PM me your email address so I can send you one. (The journal required me to give them the copyright, so I can't post it. I believe the rule is that I am allowed to post a pre-publication version of it on my website, but only a year after the print version comes out.)

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby forgetmyself » Wed Jun 10, 2009 6:39 pm

A disturbing finding in Bogaert's study was that low education, low socioeconomic status, and poor health were correlated with asexuality. It is important to know what is driving this. It has long been known that these outcomes are also correlated with unmarried status. Does a tendency not to marry, and also to divorce, among asexuals explain their poor outcomes? Or does asexuality account, at least in part, for the poor performance of the unmarried? This question could actually be addressed econometrically using Bogaert's dataset.

If poor outcomes do appear to be driven by asexuality, it would become a matter of some urgency for the community to seek further research into the possible causes. The "asexual community" exists largely in cyberspace, requiring a certain amount of intellectual curiosity, computer proficiency and regular internet access for participation. Thus, members may be far more economically successful than is average for the wider asexual population. Many other asexuals may truly be "The Sexually Oppressed," and we owe it to them to find out.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 8:01 am

With Bogaerts findings, I guess the three big questions are a) if they're correct and, if so, b) why c) what to do about this. Of course, whether these things are even true of asexuals is in question as no data set is without it's methodological problems. The three main potential sources of problems for Bogeart's set are, first, the 30% nonresponse rate. As these studies go, that's actually really good, but it's likely that there is a certain systamaticity to it; what effects that might have for asexuality aren't clear, but I think Bogaert is right that it probably deflates the rate of asexuality because people who have less sex are more likely to not participate. The other main (potential) source of error is in the operational definition of asexuality. First, there is the requirement that people have never experienced sexual attraction, but there are people (identifying as asexual) who have experienced sexual attraction, just only very little and very rarely. Some have only been sexually attracted to one or two people in their lives. This definition excludes them.

Also, it seems very common for asexuals who experience romantic attraction to assume that that's what everyone else is talking about when they talk about being attracted to people; they're only going to doubt this assumption if they have some kind of experience that brings it in to doubt: this could be having sex and finding it boring; it could be conversations about who is "hot" and realizing that's something they don't experience; it could be hearing sexual people describe in more detail what they feel when attracted to someone; it could be finding that they're attracted to both men and women, wondering if they're bi, finding a definition in terms of sexual attraction, and then trying to find out what "sexual attraction is"; it could be experiencing sexual attraction for the first (and possibly only) time and realizing that that feeling is quite different from what they've felt before. I'm sure it could be a whole bunch of things, but there are just ones either from my own experience or that I've head described by other asexuals. This why assuming everyone knows what is meant by "sexual attraction" (as the study Bogaert's data come from did), is so problematic. For this reason, it's likely that a lot of asexuals would not be identified as such in his data set. There are also some reasons he suggests that people who aren't asexual might say that they've never felt sexual attraction.

However, it will probably be quite some time before there is a data set comparable to the one Bogaert used that could be used to verify or contradict his results. I'm only aware of two large scale probability samples for studying sexuality: one from the UK (which he used) and one from the US. The US set didn't have asexuality as an option, though there was a conference paper that tried to use an answer of "unsure" to mean asexual and use that to see how they compared to Bogaert's data. But that's way too unreliable of an operational definition for asexuality, so I don't really care what they "found".

That said, let's suppose that the findings are, on the whole, accurate. There are a few reasonable explanations for the income finding. One is that there is some connection between asexuality and other kinds of atypical development. It's already pretty well accepted that there is an unexpectedly high proportion of asexuals with Aspergers, and an unexpectedly large number of transsexuals who are asexual. I believe that both groups tend to have below average incomes, though I don't have any stats to support this. Things of this sort could explain the income difference (and as I recall, when income was controlled for, the health difference went away.) I'm not really sure what to make of the difference in height or the disproportionately high number of non-whites.

As for what we could do about this, I'm not really sure. This would make people involved in the online asexual community not particularly representative of asexuals in general. (I see quotes around "asexual community." At first, the term seemed strange to me because it groups all asexuals together into some community even if they have no connection to each other; however, I've come to accept that this reflects a rather pervasive additional use of the term "community" from the one I was used to. Since a lot of people use it that way, I've basically just come to accept it.) Anyway, the question is what can we do for those lower income people unlikely to spend much time online? Depressingly, probably not that much. We can do visibility on TV, and real progress has been made by this. But at present, there isn't really any kind of asexual educational material or curriculum available for anyone. People just have to go online, spend huge amounts of time sifting through forums and blogs and static content here and there. I guess that getting asexuality incorporated into education for social workers would be a good start. But it's a difficult question on which I guess I don't feel qualified to answer beyond except with the barest of outline.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby forgetmyself » Thu Jun 11, 2009 4:40 pm

pretzelboy, your intellectual caution is an example to us all. However, you should not underestimate the usefulness of imperfect datasets. I've never met a perfect one. A 70% response rate to a survey of this scale is a great success. There are established techniques for dealing with selection bias.

I have now read the full paper, having obtained a copy today. Bogaert's analysis is preliminary at best, and his statistical tools are, well, not exactly state of the art. I suspect that much more could be drawn out of these data: I have requested access to the raw data, and will have much more to say when I have obtained it.

One random thought occurred to me on the question of Asbergers's. The finding that asexuality is correlated with short stature undermines the hypothesis that this condition is over-represented among asexuals. Asberger's Syndrome is actually correlated with above average height (see the link below).

http://www.autismspeaks.org/inthenews/i ... weight.php

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Jun 11, 2009 5:35 pm

My knowledge of stats is, sadly rather limited. I kind of feel bad about it because I'm in a graduate program aiming at a Ph.D. in the social scienced (linguistics), and I have an MA in math. (Though, while getting that degree, I discovered that math isn't really my thing, which is why I switched.) Last summer, I took the basic into to calc-based undergrad-grad-mixed stats class. This summer, I'm taking the second semester of that along with a class on how to do stuff on computers.

But I'm not really sure how much stats I'm actually going to need. My goal is to a) know enough to do stuff and b) actually know what these things mean, unlike a huge number of people in the social sciences. (In a lot of the psych, papers I've had to read recently, it's depressingly common to see someone have a sample size of about 50 and then interpret p>0.1 to mean they can affirm the null hypothesis. I don't know which is worse: that they do this or that, evidently, peer reviewers don't see anything wrong with this.)

I would be very interested to see what you find with that data set.

Edit: I hadn't know about the relationship between height and autism, though it is interesting. I had heard that they tend to have larger-than-average brains, though. One of the few studies (not on asexuality) that happened to include asexuality in their list of sexual orientations was a study on women with autism spectrum conditions. About 17% chose "asexual", though (of course) it's not clear what to make of this.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby clouded_perception » Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:18 am

There are a few things that seem to have anecdotal support that I would like to see supported or refuted by some proper studies. Specifically, whether there's a correlation between asperger's and asexuality, whether there's a correlation between asperger's and identifying as asexual (whether such people are more likely to learn about/relate to asexuality whether or not there is an increased incidence), and whether it seems to run in families.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby forgetmyself » Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:20 am

Yay! I've got the data that Bogeart used. It is indeed rich data. Based on a cautious reading of the end user agreement, I will not post anything I find on this forum. Instead I will endeavor to produce working papers or research notes on my results.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby yam » Sun Jul 05, 2009 4:29 pm

Can you say what type of data is available in this data set? I'm really interested in the qualitative side of this and wonder if there are open responses or similar data.

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Re: What studies would you want to see?

Postby forgetmyself » Sun Jul 12, 2009 4:40 am

yam wrote:Can you say what type of data is available in this data set? I'm really interested in the qualitative side of this and wonder if there are open responses or similar data.

The only open response questions were related to occupation. Much of the survey is composed of detailed sexual histories, but all of the questions were multiple choice.