Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 659–666 | Cite as

A Retrospective Study of Childhood Gender-Atypical Behavior in Samoan Fa’afafine

  • Nancy H. BartlettEmail author
  • Paul L. Vasey
Original Paper


Retrospective studies, mostly conducted in Western cultures, indicate that childhood cross-gender behaviors are strongly predictive of androphilia in adult men. To test the cross-cultural validity of these findings, we conducted a study of fa’afafine in Independent Samoa. Fa’afafine are a heterogeneous group of androphilic males, some of whom are unremarkably masculine, but most of whom behave in a feminine manner in adulthood. A total of 53 fa’afafine, 27 control men, and 24 control women participated. Participants were asked how often they engaged in female- and male-typical behaviors in childhood. Results demonstrated that fa’afafine and women recalled engaging in significantly more female-typical behaviors and significantly fewer male-typical behaviors in childhood compared to the men. Fa’afafine’s recalled female-typical and male-typical behaviors did not differ significantly from those of women. These results suggest that the relationship in males between gender-atypical behavior in childhood and adult androphilia is not unique to Western societies and may be a cross-culturally universal pattern of psychosexual development shared by most males who are predominantly androphilic.


Childhood gender non-conformity Independent Samoa Androphilia 



We thank Isaako Mailei, Alatina Ioelu, Palentina Toelupe, Emily Case, Diane Leblanc, Laura Fraser, and Jeannette Mageo. We also thank the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for their comments that improved the final version of this paper. This research was supported by grants to N.H.B. from Mount Saint Vincent University and to P.L.V. from the University of Lethbridge, and from a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada Discovery Grant.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMount Saint Vincent UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Psychology and NeuroscienceUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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