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March 1993

Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1993;50(3):228-239. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1993.01820150078009

• Recent studies postulate biologic factors as the primary basis for sexual orientation. However, there is no evidence at present to substantiate a biologic theory, just as there is no compelling evidence to support any singular psychosocial explanation. While all behavior must have an ultimate biologic substrate, the appeal of current biologic explanations for sexual orientation may derive more from dissatisfaction with the present status of psychosocial explanations than from a substantiating body of experimental data. Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking. In an alternative model, temperamental and personality traits interact with the familial and social milieu as the individual's sexuality emerges. Because such traits may be heritable or developmentally influenced by hormones, the model predicts an apparent nonzero heritability for homosexuality without requiring that either genes or hormones directly influence sexual orientation per se.

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