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"There is a clear need to rethink our attitude to heterosexuality. As a subject, it is neglected by academics and intellectuals and also largely ignored by society as a whole"
Louis-Georges Tin, The Invention of Heterosexual Culture (2012)

About the Book

Theory, Research and Practice

What is heterosexuality? How “normal” is it? How has it been understood, experienced, and practiced over time? How does it affect non-heterosexual life? What is its psychology? In this comprehensive examination of The Psychology of Heterosexuality, social psychologist Panteá Farvid (PhD) argues that while heterosexuality is by far the most common sexual orientation, there is a history of how it has been “naturalised” for us (Rich, 1980). Digging into the expansive and murky terrain of heterosexuality, Farvid argues that it is much more than just a sexual orientation or private sexual identity – it is an institution. An entrenched system that profoundly influences our daily lives and relationships, one that shapes and is shaped by the social, cultural, political, and legal structures that enable and limit different ways of being in the world. This institution is also hierarchical, assigning staggered value and legitimacy to those within and outside. While pervasive, heterosexuality is invisiblised, having fallen into a theoretical and empirical void, particularly within the discipline of psychology. This interdisciplinary text seeks to unveil the hegemonic power, or normative grip, heterosexuality has in shaping contemporary society, science, gender, sexuality, relationality, and individual psyches. In this timely, wide-ranging, and novel endeavor, Farvid challenges our ideas of what “normal” is, when it comes to sex, gender, family, intimate relationships, and sexuality - urging for an overdue reckoning with psychology’s blindspot when it comes to engaging with heterosexuality.

About the Author

Panteá Farvid (PhD) is an Associate Professor of Applied Psychology within the Schools of Public Engagement at The New School in New York City. Her expertise, research, teaching, and advocacy work center on the psychology of gender and sexuality. She has published widely in academic journals on topics such as mobile dating, heterosexual casual sex, sexual violence, race, gender non-conformity, sex work, and pornography use. Dr. Farvid is the founder and director of The SexTech Lab at The New School, which examines evolving social issues at the intersection of sexuality, gender, race/ethnicity, culture, technology, and intimacy. She draws on mixed-methods, discursive methods, participatory approaches, as well as new and emerging methodologies. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in social and applied psychology, psychology for social change, research methods, psychology of gender, sexuality and intimate relationships, and the psychology of heterosexuality. In addition to this work, Dr. Farvid has a wide-ranging media profile addressing social and psychological issues as an author and commentator, and is a frequent consultant to policy makers and private companies. Her work addresses various intersections of contemporary interpersonal, social, and structural inequities, with a view to mobilizing empirically-driven social and political change.

Dr. Farvid was born in Tehran, Iran, and immigrated to New Zealand with her family at the age of 10. She carried out her studies at The University of Auckland, earning a PhD there in Psychology. After eight years of teaching and research in the Department of Psychology at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, she joined The New School in 2019.

She currently lives and works in New York City.  

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