Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

Differences between heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women in recalled childhood experiences

  • Gabriel Phillips
  • Ray Over


Heterosexual, bisexual, and lesbian women recalled the extent to which they had engaged in gender conforming (female-stereotypic) behaviors and gender nonconforming (male-stereotypic) behaviors in childhood. Heterosexual women were more likely to recall having had female-stereotypic experiences as children, whereas lesbian women often recalled a childhood characterized by male-stereotypic experiences. Multiple discriminant function allowed the heterosexual women in the sample to be distinguished from the lesbian women with 80% accuracy in classification of individual cases on the basis of four recollected attributes (imagined self as a male character, wished to become a mother, preference for boys' games, and considered a tomboy as a child). However, some heterosexual women reported much the same childhood behaviors as the majority of lesbian women, and some lesbian women reported much the same childhood behaviors as the majority of heterosexual women. Such diversity raises questions about the nature of the relationship between experiences in childhood and adult sexual orientation.

Key words

sexual orientation lesbian women childhood indicators gender conforming behaviors gender nonconforming behaviors 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Phillips
    • 1
  • Ray Over
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLa Trobe UniversityBundooraAustralia

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