Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 42, Issue 8, pp 1649–1652 | Cite as

Poor Instruments Lead to Poor Inferences: Comment on Roberts, Glymour, and Koenen (2013)

  • Drew H. Bailey
  • J. Michael BaileyEmail author
Invited Commentary

Roberts, Glymour, and Koenen (2013) reported results of an empirical study concerning the nature of the association between childhood sexual abuse and adult homosexuality. Sexual contact with adults (including childhood sexual abuse) is especially common among young people who will become homosexual adults; the association is robust and worthy of empirical attention. A number of hypotheses, some of which posit that childhood sexual abuse causes adult homosexuality and some of which do not, are consistent with the correlation. The study by Roberts et al. attempted to test the hypothesis that childhood sexual abuse is a cause of adult homosexuality. The study had an admirably large and representative sample, and it employed the sophisticated statistical methodology of instrumental variables regression, which can under some circumstances provide good evidence for causation using correlational data. Indeed, Roberts et al. concluded from their analyses that “childhood maltreatment,”...


Sexual Orientation Childhood Maltreatment Instrumental Variable Childhood Sexual Abuse Natural Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Angrist, J. D., & Krueger, A. B. (1991). Does compulsory school attendance affect schooling and earnings? Quarterly Journal of Economics, 106, 979–1014.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, J. M. (2009). What is sexual orientation and do women have one? In D. A. Hope (Ed.), Nebraska Symposium on Motivation, 54, 43-63.Google Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347–374.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradley, S. J., Oliver, G. D., Chernick, A. B., & Zucker, K. J. (1998). Experiment of nurture: Ablatio penis at 2 months, sex reassignment at 7 months, and a psychosexual follow-up in young adulthood. Pediatrics, 102, e9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Diamond, L. M. (2009). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Gelman, A. (2009). A statistician’s perspective on “Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist’s Companion”, by Joshua D. Angrist and Jörn-Steffen Pischke. The Stata Journal, 9, 315–320.Google Scholar
  7. Green, D. P., Ha, S. E., & Bullock, J. G. (2010). Enough already about ‘black box’ experiments: Studying mediation is more difficult than most scholars suppose. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 628, 200–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ozer, D. J., & Benet-Martínez, V. (2006). Personality and the prediction of consequential outcomes. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 401–421.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Reiner, W. G., & Gearhart, J. P. (2004). Discordant sexual identity in some genetic males with cloacal exstrophy assigned to female sex at birth. New England Journal of Medicine, 350, 333–341.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Roberts, A. L., Glymour, M. M., & Koenen, K. C. (2013). Does maltreatment in childhood affect sexual orientation in adulthood? Archives of Sexual Behavior, 42, 161–171.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Zietsch, B. P., Verweij, K. J. H., Bailey, J. M., Wright, M. J., & Martin, N. G. (2011). Sexual orientation and psychiatric vulnerability: A twin study of neuroticism and psychoticism. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 133–142.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Zietsch, B. P., Verweij, K. J. H., Heath, A. C., Madden, P. A. F., Martin, N. G., Nelson, E. C., et al. (2012). Do shared etiological factors contribute to the relationship between sexual orientation and depression? Psychological Medicine, 42, 521–532.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

Personalised recommendations