This article originally appeared on my blog on Psychology Today and discusses ways in which personality traits manifest in sexual tastes, preferences, and behaviors. It’s a bit more scientific than articles I typically publish on this site, which mainly focuses on my clinical work as a therapist; however, I thought a number of my readers would benefit from and enjoy reading it.


One of the most fascinating aspects of sexuality is in understanding where it comes from. Specifically, from where do differences in sexual orientation and preference arise? Mountains of research have been conducted on orientation, focused on understanding distinctions in brain size and anatomy, prenatal hormone surges, genetic variations, and even disparities in finger length. However, especially when it comes to preference (not orientation), physiology is just one part of the equation. Indeed, as I will argue here, personality is a key missing ingredient in understanding individual sexual proclivities.

Up until recently, not much has been written about sexuality and personality. What has been published has mostly come from a very psychoanalytic perspective, often equating deviations in sexuality (from a vanilla norm) to pathologies in personality. Only in the last few years has research emerged, studying specific sexual interests and corresponding personality traits from a rigorous, empirical framework. Let’s take a look at a few of these research studies and their implications. But before digging in, I think it’s important to take a deeper dive into understanding what personality is and how it is measured.

The most standard way of measuring personality is using a test called the Big Five Inventory (BFI). Decades of research have shown […]