A Brief History of Attempts to Measure Sexual Motives


  • Elaine C. Hatfield
  • Cherie Luckhurst
  • Richard L. Rapson


Artists, creative writers, and musicians have long been interested in the complex motives that spark passionate love, sexual desire, and sexual behavior. Recently, scholars from a variety of disciplines have begun to investigate two questions: “Why do men and women choose to engage in sexual liaisons?” “Why do they avoid such encounters?” Theories abound. Many theorists have complained that there exists a paucity of scales designed to measure the plethora of motives that prompt people to seek out or to avoid sexual activities. In fact, this observation is incorrect. Many such scales of documented reliability and validity do exist. The reason that few scholars are familiar with these scales is that they were developed by psychometricians from a variety of disciplines and are scattered about in an assortment of journals, college libraries, and researchers’ desk drawers, thus making them difficult to identify and locate. This paper will attempt to provide a compendium of all known sexual motives scales, hoping that this will encourage scholars to take a multidisciplinary approach in developing typologies of sexual motives and/or in conducting their own research into the nature of sexual motives.