Alfred Kinsey's work was motivated both by professional interest and personal concerns. Having established himself as a first-class taxonomist in his studies of gall wasps, the biologist was stunned to discover how little science knew about human sexual behavior -- and felt motivated to create new scholarship in the field.
"Everybody thinks of sex in terms of their own experience, when actually it's a tremendous tapestry of experiences. It covers a vast territory. And I think to most people, that was a totally novel idea."
-- John Tebbel, Kinsey biographer
"The nature of his evolving understanding of research was to do an empirically based study of sexuality. To truly understand the variations across human beings, men and women, and age, and even to some degree by social circumstances, how did people approach this major feature of their lives? And he did this because he was responding to questions that people simply did not have any understanding of -- the biological, physiological aspects of this process."
-- Edward Laumann, sex researcher
"[Kinsey] felt that there was a great under-reporting of the extent of homosexuality. There were laws in many states about homosexuality, and he felt that it was important to get to the bottom of all this and find out exactly how many of the population were exclusively homosexual. Many more, of course, had had one homosexual encounter, experimentally, and he tabulated that also."
-- Miriam Hecht, Kinsey interviewee
"The magazines and the information that was out there were all about pleasing your husband, and your sexuality was kind of confined with the marital role and the maternal role. [Kinsey] looked at one's narrative history of sexuality as a phenomenon of the individual."
-- Leonore Tiefert, sex researcher
"When he realized how sparse the information in that field was, so that's what really prompted him... when a scientist sees a field that is very inadequately studied, why, it's a challenge."
-- Ann Kinsey Call, Kinsey's daughter