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  1. Cindy M. Meston,
  2. Christopher B. Harte

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0409

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Meston, C. M. and Harte, C. B. 2010. Heterosexuality. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.

Author Information

  1. University of Texas at Austin

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Heterosexualiy is characterized by sexual and/or romantic attraction to the opposite sex and is the most prevalent sexual orientation among humans. The term heterosexual can be used to describe an individual's sexual orientation, sexual history, or self-identification. The term heterosexuality has been commonly used only since the middle of the nineteenth centuary, and is usually contrasted with the terms homosexualilty and bisexuality. Contemporary scientific research indicates that the majority of individuals adhere to a more fluid scale of sexual orientation, exhibiting a range of both same-sex and opposite-sex sexual behaviors or fantasies (Kinsey, Pomeroy, & Martin, 1948; Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin, & Gebhard, 1953). However, social and cultural pressures have influenced people to self-identify in terms of categories rather than along a spectrum of sexuality.