2011 AAW Community Census

From AVENwiki
Revision as of 14:49, 27 September 2014 by Siggy (talk | contribs) (Methodological issues: Add link to NYT)
Jump to: navigation, search

The 2011 AAW Community Census was an online community census taken by Asexual Awareness Week in October 2011. It consisted of fifteen questions, and got 3,436 responses, making it the largest survey of asexual-spectrum people at the time.

Published analysis

An initial analysis was performed by Asexual Awareness Week and posted on Facebook. A fuller analysis was published by Tristan Miller in 2012, and the report includes the full text of the questions and answers.

Further analysis

Additional analysis was performed by other volunteers, but not published. Some of that analysis is collected here, and more can be added by anyone with access to the data. Access can be requested from AAW (although it may or may not be granted).

World Region

A. C. Hinderliter classified all the write-in responses to question 6 ("What is your nationality?"). 3,129 of the responses were classified (the rest being unclassifiable or blank).

World Region Percentage
USA 62%
UK/Ireland 12%
Canada 9%
Australia/New Zealand 5%
West Europe 4%
Latin America 3%
Northern Europe 2%
East Europe 1%
Asia 1%
Middle East 1%
Africa <1%


A. C. Hinderliter classified all the write-in responses to question 7 ("What is your ethnic identity?"). 3,029 of the responses were classified (the rest being unclassifiable or blank). Among these, 1,794 of them are from US, which Stellifera compared to 2010 US Census data.

Ethnicity Percentage USA only US Census
White/European Descent 83% 82% 64%
Hispanic/ Latin American Descent 4% 4% 16%
Asian/Pacific Islander Descent 5% 4% 5%
Black/African Descent 2% 3% 13%
Native North American/First People 0.6% 0.7% 0.9%
Multi-Racial 5% 7% 3%


Because respondents were invited to check all boxes that apply, it is difficult to create a mutually exclusive classification for views on religion. For instance, 5% of respondents identified as atheist and/or agnostic, but also specified a religion, and 1.6% identified as non-religious but also specified a religion. In these cases, a choice needs to be made for simplification purposes, although no choice is entirely satisfactory.

Stellifera created a classification where religious affiliations are prioritized in the following order: Atheist and/or agnostic > Non-religious > Two or more listed religions > a single listed religion > spiritual > other non-listed religion. So, for example, if someone says they are Christian and spiritual, they would be classified as Christian. The various Christian options (Catholic, Christian, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, and non-denominational) were not counted as separate religions.

Here we show the total breakdown, and then the breakdown of US respondents only.

Religious preference Percentage USA only
Atheist/agnostic 42% 41%
Non-religious 22% 19%
Spiritual 6% 6%
Christian 18% 20%
Other specified religion 7% 8%
Multiple specified religions 2% 3%
Other nonlisted option 3% 3%

This is not the same classification scheme used by formal polls, so it's difficult to make an exact comparison to the general US population. However, even without an exact comparison, it's clear that non-religious people are signficantly over-represented in the US asexual community, even when compared to the 18-29 age group.

Romantic orientation and the asexual spectrum

Siggy and Stellifera discovered a strong correlation between romantic orientation and location on the asexual spectrum. Here, we use the same classifications as in the published report, where "other" represents people who do not indicate attraction to any genders, but who also do not indicate being aromantic.

Group Size Heteroromantic Homoromantic Bi/panromantic Aromantic Other Monoromantic Other
Asexual 1936 20% 5% 17% 25% 5% 28%
Gray-asexual 717 24% 6% 24% 7% 5% 32%
Demisexual 704 24% 7% 32% 3% 6% 28%
Total 3357 22% 6% 22% 17% 5% 29%

Repulsive Compromise

Stellifera discovered a small but significant overlap between people who are repulsed by sex and people who are willing to have sex in a relationship. Here we look at question 12, classifying the responses to part 1 and 3 as described in the published report, part 1 asking whether people are repulsed, indifferent, or if they enjoy sex, and part 3 asking whether people would be willing to "compromise" and have sex in a relationship. Unlike the report, we exclude people who left either part blank, or who contradicted themselves.

Group Size Not willing Willing on occasion Willing regularly
Enjoy 54 4% 22% 74%
Indifferent 659 6% 50% 44%
Somewhat repulsed 880 35% 50% 15%
Completely repulsed 467 87% 11% 2%
Total 2060 37% 41% 23%

Methodological issues

The 2011 AAW Community Census suffers from a problem known as "satisficing", where survey-takers take cognitive shortcuts to fill out the survey. In particular, there are many questions where respondents are asked to check all boxes that apply, but only required to check one.

For example, 22% of respondents said they were Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or non-denominational, but only 14% said they were Christian. While it is plausible that some people might consider themselves Catholic (for instance) and not Christian, it seems unlikely that there are so many, and more likely that people simply chose a single response that fit, and ignored the other options.

Another example is question 12, where respondents were asked to select all options corresponding to their attitudes towards sex. But the question was really trying to ask three different things, some of the options corresponding to the first question, some corresponding to the second question, and some corresponding to the third. The second part was really asking whether people were "sex positive" or "antisexual/sex negative". Many people did not select any of these options, and it's unclear whether such people truly felt they did not fit any of the descriptions, or if they simply ignored that part of the question in favor of the other parts. Furthermore, "sex positive" was defined in the survey as being okay with other people having sex, but it's not clear that people read or accepted this definition.

This has led to misunderstanding in mainstream media. A New York Times article claimed "72 percent of asexuals are 'sex positive,' meaning they think it’s O.K. for other people to have sex." If true, then this would imply that 28% of asexuals are not okay with other people having sex. But in fact, we don't know the percentages, because of the effect of satisficing.


See Also