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Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and Its Correlates in an Australian Twin Sample [Personality Processes and Individual Differences]

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and Its Correlates in an Australian Twin Sample [Personality Processes and Individual Differences]

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Published by PaulGallagher
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Copyright 2000
by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
Volume 78(3) March 2000 p 524–536
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Copyright 2000
by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
Volume 78(3) March 2000 p 524–536

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Published by: PaulGallagher on Jan 13, 2010
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Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Copyright 2000 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
Volume 78(3) March 2000 p 524–536
Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation and ItsCorrelates in an Australian Twin Sample
[Personality Processes and Individual Differences]Bailey, J. Michael; Dunne, Michael P.; Martin, Nicholas G.
1,523,4
Department of Psychology, Northwestern University
1
School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
2
Epidemiology Unit, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
3
Joint Genetics Program, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
4
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. Michael Bailey, Department of Psychology, NorthwesternUniversity, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-2710. Electronic mail may be sent to jm-bailey@nwu.edu.
5
We thank Joan Linsenmeier for her comments on a previous version of this article.Received Date: January 7, 1998; Revised Date: July 22, 1999; Accepted Date: July 30, 1999
Outline
AbstractDistribution of Sexual OrientationFamiliality and Genetics of Sexual OrientationCorrelates of Sexual OrientationThe Present StudyMethod
ParticipantsMeasures
Zygosity.Sexual orientation.Childhood gender nonconformity.Continuous Gender Identity.
Data Analysis: Genetic and Environmental Model Fitting
Univariate analyses.Multivariate analyses.Testing the equal environments assumption.
Results
Distribution and Correlates of Sexual OrientationTwin SimilarityGenetic and Environmental Model Fitting: Univariate AnalysesGenetic and Environmental Model Fitting: Multivariate Analyses
Discussion
Distribution and Correlates of Sexual Orientation
8/12/02 9:51 AMOvid: Bailey: J Pers Soc Psychol, Volume 78(3).March 2000.524–536Page 1 of 26http://gateway2.ovid.com:80/ovidweb.cgi
 
Genetic and Environmental AnalysesLimitations and Future Research
References
Graphics
Figure 1Figure 2Figure 3Table 1Table 2Table 3Figure 4Table 4Table 5
Abstract
We recruited twins systematically from the Australian Twin Registry and assessed their sexual orientationand 2 related traits: childhood gender nonconformity and continuous gender identity. Men and womendiffered in their distributions of sexual orientation, with women more likely to have slight-to-moderatedegrees of homosexual attraction, and men more likely to have high degrees of homosexual attraction. Twinconcordances for nonheterosexual orientation were lower than in prior studies. Univariate analyses showedthat familial factors were important for all traits, but were less successful in distinguishing genetic from sharedenvironmental influences. Only childhood gender nonconformity was significantly heritable for both men andwomen. Multivariate analyses suggested that the causal architecture differed between men and women, and,for women, provided significant evidence for the importance of genetic factors to the traits' covariation.The causes of sexual orientation have provoked intense scientific interest, inspiring both empirical work and theory (; ; ; ; ).This interest stems, in part, from the mostly mistaken belief that different etiological accounts of sexualorientation have different social and ethical implications (; ; ;). But there are also legitimate and important scientific reasons for interest in the issue. Sexual orientationis a fundamental aspect of human sexuality, guaranteeing that for the large majority, men mate with women.Furthermore, sexual orientation is empirically closely linked to some aspects of gender roles, includingchildhood play behavior and gender identity (; ; ; ) andaspects of adult sex-typed behavior as well, particularly occupational and recreational interests (; ). Thus, illuminating the origins of sexual orientation could also shed lighton the development of other important sex differences.
Bell, Weinberg, & Hammersmith, 1981Bem, 1996aEllis & Ames, 1987Hamer & Copeland, 1994LeVay, 1996Bem, 1996bGreenberg & Bailey, 1993Schmalz, 1993Stein,1994Bailey & Zucker, 1995Bell et al., 1981Green, 1987Zuger, 1988Bailey, Finkel,Blackwelder, & Bailey, 1996Lippa, 1998
Empirical research about the origins of sexual orientation has been organized, generally, around thenature–nurture dichotomy, motivated by two different theoretical approaches. The first, sometimes called theneurohormonalor neuroendocrinetheory (;), examines the possibility
Ellis & Ames, 1987Meyer-Bahlburg, 1987
8/12/02 9:51 AMOvid: Bailey: J Pers Soc Psychol, Volume 78(3).March 2000.524–536Page 2 of 26http://gateway2.ovid.com:80/ovidweb.cgi
 
that homosexual people have been subject to atypical levels of hormones in development, thus causing sex-atypical neural diffentiation. LeVay's finding that for one hypothalamic nucleus, gay men are more similar toheterosexual women than to heterosexual men is perhaps the most important finding motivated by thisperspective (). The second approach, behavioral genetics, has focused on whether sexualorientation is familial, and if so, whether familial aggregation is attributable to genetic or shared environmentalfactors. It is important to emphasize that the two approaches are not competing theories but representdifferent levels of analysis. The present study is primarily an example of the second approach, although someof the variables considered (e.g., childhood gender nonconformity) are also highly relevant to theneurohormonal approach.
LeVay, 1991
Distribution of Sexual Orientation
In recent years a great deal of attention has been given to the prevalence of homosexuality (e.g.,; ). Media accounts have focused on the prevalence of homosexualbehavior per se. Most current researchers, including us, define sexual orientation psychologically rather thanbehaviorally (e.g., ; , p. 45; ). Sexual orientation is one's degree of sexual attraction to men or women. Of course, sexual orientation should be closely related to sexualexperience with one sex or the other, though many factors, especially social ones, could cause sexualorientation and sexual behavior to correlate less than perfectly.
Diamond,1993Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994Money, 1988LeVay, 1996Zucker & Bradley, 1995
Kinsey's original surveys of sexual orientation suggested a rather marked sex difference (see ,pp. 47–49). For men, sexual orientation appeared to be somewhat bimodal, but for women, it taperedgradually from strictly heterosexual to strictly homosexual orientation, with no elevation at the latter end of the sexual orientation scale. If this difference is true, it would suggest that sexual orientation development andphenomenology differ between the sexes. Unfortunately, Kinsey's assessment of sexual orientationconfounded behavioral and psychological measures. Furthermore, his sampling scheme was notoriouslyhaphazard (, pp. 4445).
LeVay, 1996Laumann et al., 1994
Familiality and Genetics of Sexual Orientation
Both male and female homosexuality appear to run in families (;;; ;). Studies of unseparated twins have suggested that thisis primarily due to genetic rather than familial environmental influences (;). Furthermore, there is some evidence that male sexual orientation is influenced by a gene on theX chromosome (; ), though some other studies have foundcontradictory evidence (; ).
Bailey & Bell, 1993Bailey & Benishay, 1993Pattatucci & Hamer, 1995Pillard, 1990Pillard & Weinrich, 1986Bailey & Pillard, 1991Bailey, Pillard, Neale,& Agyei, 1993Hamer, Hu, Magnuson, Hu, & Pattatucci, 1993Hu et al., 1995Bailey et al., 1999Rice, Anderson, & Ebers, 1995
Although prior twin studies have been generally consistent in indicating a genetic contribution to male andfemale sexual orientation, they have also been rather consistent in their methodological limitations. Mostimportantly, all sizable twin studies of sexual orientation recruited probands by means of advertisements inhomophile publications or by word of mouth (). Such sampling is likely to result involunteer bias that affects twin concordances and heritability analyses (), though it isdifficult to estimate the direction or magnitude of the bias from available information. Furthermore,respondents with exclusively homosexual orientations may be overrepresented, and those with modest levelsof homosexual attraction, underrepresented, obscuring the potentially continuous nature of sexual orientation.
Bailey & Pillard, 1995Kendler & Eaves, 1989
Correlates of Sexual Orientation
8/12/02 9:51 AMOvid: Bailey: J Pers Soc Psychol, Volume 78(3).March 2000.524–536Page 3 of 26http://gateway2.ovid.com:80/ovidweb.cgi

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