Behavior Genetics

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 323–329

Sensation seeking in opposite-sex twins: An effect of prenatal hormones?

  • Susan M. Resnick
  • Irving I. Gottesman
  • Matthew McGue

DOI: 10.1007/BF01067432

Cite this article as:
Resnick, S.M., Gottesman, I.I. & McGue, M. Behav Genet (1993) 23: 323. doi:10.1007/BF01067432


Intrauterine hormones and position with respect to male and female littermates influence sexually dimorphic adult behavior in litter-bearing animals. Opposite-sex dizygotic twins offer the opportunity to examine analogous effects on sex-related human behaviors. To illustrate this approach, Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS) scores from 422 British twin pairs, including 51 opposite-sex pairs (Zuckerman, M.,et al., J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46:139–149, 1978), were reanalyzed. Zuckermanet al. (1978) have shown that some aspects of sensation seeking are consistently increased in males relative to females. In comparing age-adjusted data for opposite and same-sex twins, our reanalysis demonstrated the predicted increase in sensation seeking in female members of opposite-sex pairs. Results were significant for measures of disinhibition, experience seeking, and overall sensation seeking. In contrast, male opposite-sex twins were not significantly different from male same-sex twins. Although psychosocial explanations of the increased sensation seeking in opposite-sex female twins cannot be excluded, these findings are consistent with hypothesizedin utero hormonal influences on later behavioral development.

Key Words

Opposite-sex twins sensation seeking sex hormones sex differences 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan M. Resnick
    • 1
    • 2
  • Irving I. Gottesman
    • 3
  • Matthew McGue
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Laboratory of Personality and CognitionNIA/Gerontology Research CenterBaltimore
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesville
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolis

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