Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 3–18 | Cite as

Parental background of male homosexuals and heterosexuals

  • Marvin Siegelman


Conflicting descriptions of parents of homosexuals compared to those of heterosexuals have typically been reported. The most frequently noted pattern for homosexuals includes a close-binding, controlling mother and a detached, rejecting father. Because the majority of studies have examined emotionally disturbed patients, and have contained significant methodological and sampling inadequacies, the present research evaluated nonclinical homosexual and heterosexual groups by means of systematically developed objective questionnaires. The data for the total samples indicated that homosexuals (N= 307) described their fathers and mothers as more rejecting and less loving and that they were less close to their fathers than heterosexuals (N= 138). For subsamples of homosexuals and heterosexuals scoring low on neuroticism, however, no significant differences in family relations were found. Differences in parent similarity were also considerably reduced when homosexuals and heterosexuals low on neuroticism were compared. Homosexuals low on femininity, in addition, reported negative behavior for fathers but not for mothers. The importance of considering the general level of adjustment among nonclinical subjects and the degree of masculinity of subjects was supported by the findings in the present study. The overall results, in addition, cast serious doubt on the prevalent assumption that negative parental behavior, especially of mothers, plays a critical role in differentiating the backgrounds of homosexuals and heterosexuals.


Critical Role Total Sample General Level Social Issue Parental Behavior 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Apperson, L. B., and McAdoo, W. G., Jr. (1968). Parental factors in the childhood of homosexuals.J. Abnorm. Psychol. 73201–206.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Benda, C. E. (1963). Existential psychotherapy of homosexuality.Rev. Existen. Psychol. Psychiat. 3133–152.Google Scholar
  3. Bene, E. (1965). On the genesis of male homosexuality: An attempt at clarifying the role of the parents.Brit. J. Psychiat. 111803–813.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bieber, I., Dain, H. J., Dince, P. R., Drellich, M. G., Grand, H. G., Gundlach, R. H., Kremer, M. W., Rifkin, A. H., Wilbur, C. B., and Bieber, T. B. (1962).Homosexuality: A Psychoanalytic Study Basic Books, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Braaten, L., and Darling, C. (1965). Overt and covert homosexual problems among male college students.Genet. Psychol. Monogr. 71269–310.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, D. G. (1957). The development of sex-role inversion and homosexuality.J. Pediat. 50613–619.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, D. G. (1958). Inversion and homosexuality.Am. J. Orthopsychiat. 28424–429.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brown, D. G. (1963). Homosexuality and family dynamics.Bull. Menninger Clin. 27227–232.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Chess, S., Thomas, A., and Birch, H. G. (1967). Behavior problems revisited: Findings of an anterospective study.J. Am. Acad. Child Psychiat. 6321–331.Google Scholar
  10. Crowne, D. P., and Marlowe, D. (1960). A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 24349–354.Google Scholar
  11. Edwards, H. E. (1963). The relationship between reported early life experiences with parents and adult male homosexuality. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Tennessee.Google Scholar
  12. Evans, R. B. (1969). Childhood parental relationships of homosexual men.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 33129–135.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Frank, G. (1965). The role of the family in the development of psychopathology.Psychol. Bull. 64191–205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Freud, S. (1916).Leonardo DaVinci Knopf, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Freund, K., and Pinkava, V. (1961). Homosexuality in man and its association with parental relationships.Rev. Czech. Med. 732–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Gassner, S., and Murray, E. J. (1969). Dominance and conflict in the interactions between parents of normal and neurotic children.J. Abnorm. Psychol. 7433–41.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Goldin, P. C. (1969). A review of children's reports of parent behaviors.Psychol. Bull. 71222–236.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Gough, H. G. (1952). Identifying psychological femininity.Educ. Psychol. Meas. 12427–439.Google Scholar
  19. Greenblatt, D. R. (1966). Semantic differential analysis of the “triangular system” hypothesis in “adjusted” overt male homosexuals. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California.Google Scholar
  20. Greenstein, J. M. (1966). Father characteristics and sex-typing.J. Personal. Soc. Psychol. 3271–277.Google Scholar
  21. Hamburger, M. (1958). Realism and consistency in early adolescent aspirations and expectations. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University.Google Scholar
  22. Hollingshead, A. B., and Redlich, F. C. (1958).Social Class and Mental Illness: A Community Study Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Hooker, E. (1969). Parental relations and male homosexuality in patient and nonpatient samples.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 33140–142.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Jonas, K. H. (1944). An objective approach to the personality and environment in homosexuality.Psychiat. Quart. 18626–641.Google Scholar
  25. Kagan, J. (1964). Acquisition and significance of sex typing and sex role identity. In Hoffman, M. L., and Hoffman, L. W. (eds.),Review of Child Development Research Russel Sage Foundation, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Liddicoat, R. (1957). Homosexuality.Brit. Med. J. 91110–1111.Google Scholar
  27. McGuire, R. G. (1966). An inquiry into attitudes and value systems of a minority group. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, New York University.Google Scholar
  28. Miller, P. R. (1958). The effeminate passive obligatory homosexual.Arch. Neurol. Psychiat. 80612–618.Google Scholar
  29. Mussen, P. H. (ed.) (1971).Carmichael's Manual of Child Psychology Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  30. Nash, J., and Hayes, F. (1965). The parental relationship of male homosexuals: Some theoretical issues and a pilot study.Aust. J. Psychol. 1735–43.Google Scholar
  31. O'Connor, P. J. (1964). Aetiological factors in homosexuality as seen in Royal Air Force psychiatric practice.Brit. J. Psychiat. 110381–391.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Opler, M. K., and Singer, J. L. (1956). Ethnic differences in behavior and psychopathology: Italian and Irish.Internat. J. Soc. Psychiat. 211–23.Google Scholar
  33. Paitich, D. (1964). Attitudes toward parents in male homosexuals and exhibitionists. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Toronto.Google Scholar
  34. Roe, A., and Siegelman, M. (1963). A parent-child relations questionnaire.Child Develop. 34355–369.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Roe, A., and Siegelman, M. (1964). The origin of interests.Am. Personnel Guid. Ass. Inquiry Stud. 11–98.Google Scholar
  36. Schachter, S. (1959).The Psychology of Affiliation Stanford University Press, Stanford, Calif.Google Scholar
  37. Scheier, I. H., and Cattell, R. B. (1961).The Neuroticism Scale Questionnaire Institute for Personality and Ability Testing, Champaign, Ill.Google Scholar
  38. Siegelman, M. (1965). College student personality correlates of early parent-child relationships.J. Consult. Psychol. 29558–564.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Siegelman, M. (1972). Adjustment of male homosexuals and heterosexuals.Arch. Sex. Behav. 29–25.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Siegelman, M. (1973). Parent behavior correlates of personality traits related to creativity in sons and daughters.J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 4043–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Snortum, J. R., Marshall, J. E., Gillespie, J. F., and McLaughlin, J. P. (1969). Family dynamics and homosexuality.Psychol. Rep. 24763–770.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Socarides, G. W. (1968).The Overt Homosexual Grune and Stratton, New York.Google Scholar
  43. Stekel, W. (1930). Is homosexuality curable?Psychoanal. Rev. 17443–451.Google Scholar
  44. Terman, L. M., and Miles, C. C. (1936).Sex and Personality: Studies in Masculinity and Femininity McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  45. Tryon, R. C. (1957). Reliability and behavior domain validity: Reformulation and historical critique.Psychol. Bull. 54229–249.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Ullman, P. S. (1959). Parental participation in child-rearing as evaluated by male social deviates. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Oregon.Google Scholar
  47. West, D. J. (1959). Parental figures in male homosexuality.Internat. J. Soc. Psychiat. 585–97.Google Scholar
  48. Whitener, R. W., and Nikelly, A. G. (1964). Sexual deviation in college students.Am. J. Orthopsychiat. 34486–492.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. Wiedeman, G. H. (1962). Survey of psychoanalytic literature on overt male homosexuality.J. Am. Psychoanal. Ass. 10386–409.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marvin Siegelman
    • 1
  1. 1.School of EducationThe City CollegeNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations