Deutsch: Heterosexualität / Español: Heterosexualidad / Português: Heterossexualidade / Français: Hétérosexualité / Italiano: Eterosessualità

Heterosexuality in the psychology context refers to a sexual orientation characterized by an emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction to individuals of the opposite sex or gender. It is one of the main categories of sexual orientation, alongside homosexuality, bisexuality, and asexuality. In psychology, the study of heterosexuality encompasses various dimensions, including biological, emotional, cultural, and societal factors that influence the development and expression of sexual orientation.


From a psychological perspective, heterosexuality is understood not just as a pattern of sexual attraction but also as a complex interplay of genetic, hormonal, cognitive, and environmental factors. Psychological research into heterosexuality examines how these factors contribute to the development of sexual orientation and how individuals understand and express their heterosexuality within the context of their personal and social lives. The study of heterosexuality also considers the role of societal norms and values in shaping individuals' experiences of their sexual orientation, including the expectations and pressures related to gender roles and relationships.

Application Areas

In psychology, the study of heterosexuality is relevant in several areas:

  • Developmental Psychology: Exploring how sexual orientation develops and manifests across the lifespan.
  • Social Psychology: Examining the social and cultural influences on heterosexual identities and relationships.
  • Clinical Psychology: Addressing issues related to sexual health, relationship counseling, and the psychological well-being of heterosexual individuals.
  • Health Psychology: Researching aspects of sexual behavior and its implications for physical and mental health.

Well-Known Examples

The Kinsey Scale, developed by Alfred Kinsey in the mid-20th century, is a notable example related to the study of heterosexuality (and sexuality more broadly). The scale was innovative in recognizing the fluidity of sexual orientation, suggesting that individuals may not fit strictly into categories of heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual but instead may fall somewhere along a continuum between exclusively heterosexual and exclusively homosexual behavior and attraction.

Treatment and Risks

In the context of psychology, heterosexuality itself is not treated as a condition requiring intervention. However, psychologists may work with heterosexual individuals on issues related to sexual health, relationship dynamics, and sexual orientation, including navigating societal pressures and expectations. Challenges can arise from external factors such as stigma, discrimination, or restrictive cultural norms surrounding gender and sexuality, which can impact individuals' psychological well-being and relationships.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Straightness: Attraction to the opposite sex.
  • Heterosexual orientation: Preference for romantic and sexual relationships with the opposite gender.
  • Opposite-sex attraction: Interest in individuals of the other gender.
  • Heteronormativity: Social norms that favor heterosexual relationships.
  • Heterosexism: Belief that heterosexuality is the default or normal sexual orientation.
  • Different-sex relationships: Partnerships between male and female partners.


Heterosexuality, within psychology, is understood as a sexual orientation characterized by attraction to the opposite sex or gender. It is a complex aspect of human identity influenced by a range of biological, psychological, and social factors. The study of heterosexuality in psychology covers the development and expression of sexual orientation, as well as the societal and cultural contexts in which these processes occur, aiming to enhance understanding and support for individuals across the spectrum of sexual orientations.