Project SPEAK is a multi-study, mixed-method endeavor to better understand the lives, experiences, and contexts of people who experience atypical sexual desires and/or behavior (including kink, fetishism, BDSM, sexual role-play, etc). Historically, people with atypical sexual desires have been pathologized by psychological research, often making wild assumptions and inferences about the "disordered" causes of such desires. That past research mostly relied on case studies of sex offenders, and people actively seeking therapy to "fix" their "problem". Those categories of people often don't represent most kinksters, the kinds of everyday people practicing kink out in the general world. Today, even as psychology has come to be more considerate and understanding of atypical sexualities, little is known about everyday kinksters.
Project SPEAK seeks to answer questions about what motivates people to participate in kink, and how kinky people construct and narrate their kink identities. The project also strives to account for how kink interests develop and change over time and in the context of history, location, and other intersecting identities like race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and social class. Finally, Project SPEAK also seeks to understand how kinksters manage the stigma associated with their identities, and how that stigma affects kinky people's health, stress, and well-being.