Faculty Publications

Sex, Gender, and Sexual Orientation in Psychological Research: Exploring Data Trends & Researcher Opinions

Document Type



gender, psychology research, Sex, sexual orientation

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychological Reports


Psychology researchers have historically neglected variables related to sex, gender, and sexual orientation, leading to the erasure of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in research, which limits the generalizability of psychological findings. We argue that these important variables need to be considered more consistently by researchers across psychology subdisciplines. In Study 1 we found that 15.1% of a large MTurk sample (i.e., 8500+) identified as a sexual or gender minority (SGM; e.g., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer [LGBTQ+]). In addition, data from Study 1 showed that our youngest cohort (i.e., aged 18–25 years) reported significantly higher rates of LGBTQ+ identification (22.7%) than our oldest cohort (i.e., 65–84 years; 1.3%), suggesting that endorsement of these idnetities is increasing. Next, in Study 2 we found that psychology researchers (N = 135) tended to rate expansive sex, gender, and sexual orientation demographic variables as important in general, but were much less likely to report actually using these variables in their own studies. Moreover, younger faculty and faculty who identified as women rated these variables as more important than their colleagues. Based on our findings, we conclude that psychology researchers should use expansive sex, gender, and sexual orientation items in their studies, report these demographic variables consistently, and analyze their data by these important variables when possible. Because a substantial and growing proportion of individuals identify as LGBTQ+, and because SGM identity is related to additional life stressors, it is imperative to better understand these individuals. Various resources are offered and challenges are discussed.


Department of Psychology

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version