Quantifying Storms’ Model

Question: Storms’ Model is a model of sexual orientation proposed by psychologist Michael Storms in 1978.  Can we verify this model?  Do asexuals experience low or no sexual attraction?

storms1Storms’ original diagram


Strength Quad

Figure 1: Strength of sexual attraction towards men and women, as reported by various groups.

We asked respondents how strong their sexual attraction is to men and to women.  The frequencies of different responses are represented in Figure 1 with a color scale.  Since “demisexuality” usually means that sexual attraction is not constant, but dependent various conditions, many demisexuals were presumably confused by the question.  Many nonetheless humored us with a response.

Strength barplot
Figure 2: Strength of sexual attraction reported by different groups.

In Figure 1, many individuals feel a different strength of sexual attraction towards men and towards women.  Here, we combine sexual attraction towards men and women by taking the maximum of those two numbers.  69% of asexuals reported zero sexual attraction to either gender.  Note that some people might also experience sexual attraction to non-binary genders, but such attraction is not included here.

Strength orientations
Figure 3: Frequency of sexual attraction towards men and women, reported by various non-ace groups.

Similar to Figure 1, we report the results for various non-ace groups.  Non-binary people are included in the bisexual and pansexual panels, but omitted from any panels labeled “men” or “women”.


Storms’ Model uses scales of “homo-eroticism” and “hetero-eroticism”, which are similar to the idea of strength of sexual attraction towards men and women.  Within this model, asexuals are defined as people who are “low” on both scales.  In contrast, many common definitions of “asexual” say it is a person who does not experience sexual attraction at all.  Our survey finds that 31% of people who identify as asexual experience some sexual attraction.  This means the common definition is true for some asexuals, but wrong for a significant fraction of them.

11 thoughts on “Quantifying Storms’ Model

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  2. On a totally different note, I find it fascinating how the graph for “straight women” differs from all other monosexual graphs in figure 3.

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