Sexual Orientation

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psych blog pic 3.jpgIn today's society, the issue of gay marriage is a controversial topic. Psychological studies, however, have shown that homosexuality is often determined by many factors, including biological ones, such as hormonal imbalances in the womb and differences in brain functions. Studies have shown that sexual hormones in the womb, called androgens, affect the tendency of individuals to lean one way or another sexually. Girls who are exposed to a greater than normal amount of testosterone in the womb are more likely to be more masculine, and boys vice-versa. This ties in nicely with the study and theories of Daryl Bem, who suggested the exotic becomes erotic theory of sexuality. Bem's theory proposed that feminine boys and masculine girls form friendships with the opposite gender, and, as a result, their gender becomes exotic to them. This exotic fascination with the same gender then results in a greater tendency towards homosexuality. Another important factor in sexual orientation is a person's genetics. Simon LeVay proposed a theory that the size of the hypothalamus in homosexuals is larger than that of heterosexuals. This was further backed by a study done where persons of either sexuality were exposed to pheromones distinct to the male and female sex. The study showed that the brains of homosexual men responded to the male pheromones in similar ways to the brains of heterosexual females. This indicates that the hypothalamus plays a significant role in determining the sexuality of an individual. Since the hypothalamus is inherited genetically, this points to a genetic cause of sexuality.

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This is interesting topic. I agree that homosexuality involves both physiological and psychological aspects. People of the same sex can be attracted each other because their hormone balances are different from regular people. Also, people's fascination about homosexuality may have huge impact on their tendency toward homosexuality.

The 'nature' theory conjures a lot of evidence that biology is the main cause of homosexuality. However, it is impossible to forget that 'nurture' must have a role as well. I feel it depends on the person and their life experiences more than their biological make-up. I have heard of instances where a person is heterosexual throughout a majority of their life, but become homosexual once they find the right person. Either way, I feel like both nature and nurture play a role.

I agree with you, nurture plays a significant role in determining an individuals overall sexuality, but it is important to remember that nature is also a significant factor as well. Many people today act as if sexuality is determined solely through either nature or nurture, not both.

I think you are a little mistaken on the hypothalamus... The size of one nucleus is larger in males than females and homosexual males are typically found to have smaller nuclei (more like the females). Be sure to cite and link your sources to give people further reading opportunities! Nice topic and discussion of both nature and nurture.

I like the discussion of nature versus nurture. I didn't realize there had been so many studies done on this topic. I think it's very likely that there is a genetic component to homosexuality, however I wonder what research there has been on bisexuality and it's genetic, psychological, and situational/environmental differences to both homosexuality and heterosexuality.

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Chan published on April 8, 2012 6:21 PM.

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