Nature vs. Nurture: Homosexuality

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For the most part, the nature vs. nurture debate is settled. Most people agree that it's a bit of both. However one area that this debate still rages on is under the topic of homosexuality. It has captured peoples' attention because of the political debates over whether or not homosexuality is a choice. This article from the Boston Globe looks at a set of identical twin boys. One of them is traditionally masculine and one of them is gay and feminine. The article is interesting because they are identical, but not both are gay, so it seems to not be genetic. Yet, on the other hand the gay child has been more feminine since before he could talk. These brothers however are just one case. The article does discuss other research that has been done, and all that research seems to point to the theory that homosexuality is at least partially genetic.
As I personally do believe homosexuality is genetic, I do not find these results surprising. Although to avoid confirmation bias I admit that no one has attempted to replicate (as far as I know) these studies. Yet, many different research methods have been employed, and all seem to be pointing towards the same thing. What is important to understand for the political debate is that whether homosexuality is eventually shown to be a product of nature, nurture, or both, 'nurture' should not be mistaken for 'choice'.

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/08/14/what_makes_people_gay/?page=1

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I'm so glad that this was one of the topics to blog about. Nature vs. nurture was newly introduced to me this semester so learning about all of the real life things that this debate applies to amazes me. I am glad that the overall conclusion on this nature vs. nurture debate is that it comes down to being both, i can't imagine it'd be any different because genetics and the surroundings you're raised in i've always thought have made people who they are. The application to whether homosexuality is genetic or choice is something I haven't ever spent a lot of time pondering. I'm glad to see that this article actually has done some research and experiments to dig deeper into this debate of homosexuality. I also have the belief that it's genetics, but i have to try and be open to other experimental evidence if any come about. I would also be interested to see what other real life situations directly connect to the nature vs. nurture debate.

I find it very interesting that you say nurture should not be mistaken for choice because so many people fall into that trap of thinking! From my personal experiences with friends who are homosexual, almost all of them describe their situation as difficult due to their parents' belief that they are trying to 'rebel' and prove a point. Their parents and relative think they are choosing the path of homosexuality because of certain family incidents or other events in their life when in reality they have stated over and over that they are simply attracted to the same sex. I am surprised these studies have not been replicated, especially since the idea of homosexuality is being talked about a lot more frequently in our society today.

Very interesting topic and article. I'm glad you chose to write about it!

I realize homosexuality is a very controversial issue, and I also realize that sometimes it seems very likely that it is genetic. But when you bring up the point that these studies haven't been replicated, it points to the fact that if they're not replicable they probably aren't 100% accurate and leads me to believe that homosexuality is a trait learned through nurture.

I don't really want to argue, but I just want to say that the studies haven't been replicated because no one has attempted to replicate them. Not because someone tried and had different results.

I think that this is the most interesting aspect of the Nature vs. Nurture debate. My very good friend and I have argued about one question for a long time: Is homosexuality a choice? At first, I thought yes, it was. I don't believe that any more; in most cases I believe genes and environment of upbringing are responsible. I asked myself why the younger me thought thought the way I did. Questions led to more questions, and I found myself asking why homosexuality is so taboo in our society, and faces such opposition. What do people find so wrong with same-sex relationships that they denounce them? I've given it plenty of thought, but I'm no closer to an answer. I did come up with this: Maybe homosexuals aren't the problem. After all, its straight people that have an issue with gays, not the other way around, isn't it? Maybe the problem is all of us, and the way we were raised. Nobody ever stops to consider that.

thank you so much for saying that. saying that if seems as thou it is the heterosexuals that have a problem with homosexuals. i have yet to meet a homosexual that has disrespected me or made me feel uncomfortable. i like to believe i have come to a point where i can look at people for being people, not being hetero or homosexual or even skin color at that. this is such a difficult and tender subject but a part of me just wishes that we all could just stop picking on each other and just learn to get along. in a perfect world, right?

I really like this blog. First, it shows that you've really taken it upon yourself to develop traits of a psychologist (skepticism, humility, etc.) when looking at studies and comparing them to your personal beliefs. I never knew there was a study like this out and have always been curious about the basis (nurture vs. nature) of sexuality leans towards. I think if more of these studies could be replicated, eventually the majority of society may forgo belief perseverance about homosexuality being a choice and form their beliefs around the evidence that science provides. Hopefully conflict in this area will then be resolved.

Thank you for posting this. I too am surprised more studies haven't been done on this subject. As leuer022 said, maybe more scientific evidence will encourage more people to view homosexuality as genetic. I have thought about this debate many times and I really appreciated how you stepped back to examine this topic. You acknowledged your own beliefs and then attempted to back away and get a less biased view of the evidence.

I think an excellent question is what will happen if there is ever definitive evidence of whither it is primarily nature or nurture. will there be some sort of eugenics like movement if the primary factor is nurture? will certain parenting styles be frown upon if the primary factor is nurture?

I agree to a certain extent that homosexuality is genetic. Just from my own experiences and looking at how some of my gay friends were brought up, I haven't seen anything similar their parents have really done. Although there is a lot of genetic code in a person, I think it would be interesting to look, even partially, at the differences in DNA between people the twins you mentioned.

That is really the only option (being genetic) that I can think of for homosexuality. I've heard of researchers examining brains of homosexuals, and no one has been able to find differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. It would show if the brains were chemically different or something else.

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This page contains a single entry by brand909 published on February 5, 2012 8:48 PM.

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