Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Document Type


Publication Date



This study explores the motivations that may orient an individual to another' s sexual orientation. Extant literature has traditionally focused on the ways in which individuals "detect" or recognize another's sexual orientation, but has failed to explore the communicative strategies individuals routinely engage in and the reasons he or she may be interested in another' s sexual orientation. As such, this study fits nicely into the interpersonal and intercultural communication literatures that concern themselves with the social construction of identity, which is an ongoing interactional task to which conversationalists orient. The data for this study was collected during the fall of 2012 from the self-report responses from a sample of undergraduate and graduate students (N=574) enrolled in on-campus courses at a mid-sized Midwestern university and from in-depth interviews conducted with five participants. Thus, the goal of this exploratory study is to investigate the ways in which individuals understand behaviors attributed to differing sexual orientations and the reasons why sexual orientation becomes relevant in ordinary everyday social interactions. Furthermore, this study offers insight into how assuming heterosexuality affects the ways in which non-heterosexuals communicate during their everyday interactions.