, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 163-176
Date: 08 Mar 2007

Birth Order, Sibling Sex Ratio, Handedness, and Sexual Orientation of Male and Female Participants in a BBC Internet Research Project

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Abstract

This study investigated the relations among sexual orientation, fraternal birth order (number of older brothers), and hand-preference. The participants were 87,798 men and 71,981 women who took part in a Web-based research project sponsored by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The results yielded some evidence confirming prior findings that non-right-handedness is associated with homosexuality in men and women, that older brothers increase the odds of homosexuality in men, and that the effect of older brothers on sexual orientation is limited to right-handed men. The evidence was weaker than in previous studies, however, probably because the usual relations among the variables of interest were partially obscured by the effects of other factors. Thus, the homosexual men and women had higher rates of non-right-handedness than their heterosexual counterparts, but the strongest handedness finding for both sexes was a marked tendency for participants who described themselves as ambidextrous also to describe themselves as bisexual. The birth order data were strongly affected by a tendency for the male participants to report an excess of older sisters, and the female participants to report an excess of older brothers. Statistical analyses confirmed that this was an artifact of the parental stopping rule, “Continue having children until you have offspring of both sexes.” In subsequent analyses, participants were divided into those who did and did not have younger siblings, on the grounds that the data of the former would be less contaminated by the stopping rule. In the former subsample, the right-handed homo/bisexual males showed the typical high ratio of older brothers to older sisters, whereas the non-right-handed homo/bisexual males did not.