Sex Ed

Happy Birthday, Dr. Kinsey! Celebrating the History of Sex Research

June 23, 2021 by Justin Lehmiller

“We are the recorders and reporters of facts—not the judges of the behaviors we describe.”

– Alfred Kinsey

Today (June 23) marks the birthday of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, one of the most famous figures in the world of sex research. Kinsey was born in 1894 and died in 1956 at the age of 62, leaving behind an enduring legacy.

Kinsey, a biologist by training, rose to fame in the 1940s and 50s when he published a pair of best-selling books (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female) that were based on face-to-face interviews with over 12,000 people from across the United States. The books became widely known as “The Kinsey Reports” in the media and in pop culture and introduced the world to the now famous Kinsey Scale.

He and his research team sought to better understand what was actually happening in people’s sex lives at the time and his results shocked the world because they fundamentally changed what people thought they knew about sex. One of the key things he documented was a wide range of diversity in sexual behavior. He also showed that same-sex behavior was far more common than previously thought and his work disputed numerous stereotypes about women’s sexuality.

Kinsey founded the Institute for Sex Research in 1947 at Indiana University (located in the city of Bloomington, Indiana). Later renamed The Kinsey Institute, it remains the premier institute for scientific research on sex, gender, and reproduction to this day, with 2021 marking its 74th anniversary.

To learn more about Kinsey’s most important scientific contributions to our knowledge of human sexuality, check out this article.

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Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons via Proyecto Historiador 2

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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