Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 623–630 | Cite as

Gender Nonconformity, Intelligence, and Sexual Orientation

  • Qazi RahmanEmail author
  • Suraj Bhanot
  • Hanna Emrith-Small
  • Shilan Ghafoor
  • Steven Roberts
Original Paper


The present study explored whether there were relationships among gender nonconformity, intelligence, and sexual orientation. A total of 106 heterosexual men, 115 heterosexual women, and 103 gay men completed measures of demographic variables, recalled childhood gender nonconformity (CGN), and the National Adult Reading Test (NART). NART error scores were used to estimate Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) Full-Scale IQ (FSIQ) and Verbal IQ (VIQ) scores. Gay men had significantly fewer NART errors than heterosexual men and women (controlling for years of education). In heterosexual men, correlational analysis revealed significant associations between CGN, NART, and FSIQ scores (elevated boyhood femininity correlated with higher IQ scores). In heterosexual women, the direction of the correlations between CGN and all IQ scores was reversed (elevated girlhood femininity correlating with lower IQ scores). There were no significant correlations among these variables in gay men. These data may indicate a “sexuality-specific” effect on general cognitive ability but with limitations. They also support growing evidence that quantitative measures of sex-atypicality are useful in the study of trait sexual orientation.


Sexual orientation Childhood gender nonconformity Intelligence Cognition NART WAIS 


  1. Alanko, K., Santtila, P., Harlaar, N., Witting, K., Varjonen, M., Jern, P., et al. (2010). Common genetic effects of gender atypical behavior in childhood and sexual orientation in adulthood: A study of Finnish twins. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 81–92.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alanko, K., Santtila, P., Witting, K., Varjonen, M., Jern, P., Johansson, A., et al. (2009). Psychiatric symptoms and same-sex sexual attraction and behavior in light of childhood gender atypical behavior and parental relationships. Journal of Sex Research, 46, 494–504.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bailey, J. M., Dunne, M. P., & Martin, N. G. (2000). Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 524–536.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bailey, J. M., & Zucker, K. J. (1995). Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review. Developmental Psychology, 31, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Banks, G. C., Batchelor, J. H., & McDaniel, M. A. (2010). Smarter people are (a bit) more symmetrical: A meta-analysis of the relationship between intelligence and fluctuating asymmetry. Intelligence, 38, 393–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blanchard, R., Kolla, N. J., Cantor, J. M., Klassen, P. E., Dickey, R., Kuban, M. E., et al. (2007). IQ, handedness, and pedophilia in adult male patients stratified by referral source. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19, 285–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bright, P., Jaldow, E., & Kopelman, M. D. (2002). The National Adult Reading Test as a measure of premorbid intelligence: A comparison with estimates derived from demographic variables. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 8, 847–854.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Camperio-Ciani, A., Corna, F., & Capiluppi, C. (2004). Evidence for maternally inherited factors favoring male homosexuality and promoting female fecundity. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences, 271, 2217–2221.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cantor, J. M., Blanchard, R., Christensen, B. K., Dickey, R., Klassen, P. E., Beckstead, A. L., et al. (2004). Intelligence, memory, and handedness in pedophilia. Neuropsychology, 18, 3–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cantor, J. M., Blanchard, R., Robichaud, L. K., & Christensen, B. K. (2005). Quantitative reanalysis of aggregate data on IQ in sexual offenders. Psychological Bulletin, 131, 555–568.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cardoso, F. L. (2009). Recalled sex-typed behavior in childhood and sports’ preferences in adulthood of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual men from Brazil, Turkey, and Thailand. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 726–736.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. Collaer, M. L., Reimers, S., & Manning, J. T. (2007). Visuospatial performance on an internet line judgment task and potential hormonal markers: Sex, sexual orientation, and 2D:4D. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, 177–192.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Crawford, J. R., Deary, I. J., Starr, J. M., & Whalley, L. J. (2001). The NART as an index of prior intellectual functioning: A retrospective validity study covering a 66 year interval. Psychological Medicine, 31, 451–458.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crawford, J. R., Parker, D. M., Allan, K. M., Jack, A. M., & Morrison, F. M. (1991). The short NART: Cross validation, relationship to IQ and some practical considerations. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 223–229.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Crawford, J. R., Parker, D. M., Stewart, L. E., Besson, J. A. O., & De Lacy, G. (1989). Prediction of WAIS IQ with National Adult Reading Test: Cross-validation and extension. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 28, 267–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crawford, J. R., Stewart, L. E., Cochrane, R. H. B., Parker, D. M., & Beeson, J. A. (1989). Construct validity of the National Adult Reading Test: A factor analytic study. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 585–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Deary, I. J., Whalley, L. J., & Crawford, J. R. (2004). An ‘instantaneous’ estimate of a lifetime’s cognitive change. Intelligence, 32, 113–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dunne, M. P., Bailey, J. M., Kirk, K. M., & Martin, N. G. (2000). The subtlety of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 29, 549–565.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Finegan, J. K., Zucker, K. J., Bradley, S. J., & Doering, R. W. (1982). Patterns of intellectual functioning and spatial ability in boys with gender identity disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 27, 135–139.Google Scholar
  21. Frisell, T., Lichtenstein, P., Rahman, Q., & Långström, N. (2010). Psychiatric morbidity associated with same-sex sexual behavior: Influence of minority stress and familial factors. Psychological Medicine, 40, 315–324.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gladue, B. A., & Bailey, J. M. (1995). Spatial ability, handedness and human sexual orientation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 20, 487–497.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gladue, B. A., Beatty, W. W., Larson, J., & Staton, R. D. (1990). Sexual orientation and spatial ability in men and women. Psychobiology, 18, 101–108.Google Scholar
  24. Green, R. (1987). The “sissy boy syndrome” and the development of homosexuality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hassan, B., & Rahman, Q. (2007). Selective sexual orientation-related differences in object location memory. Behavioral Neuroscience, 121, 625–633.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lalumiére, M. L., Blanchard, R., & Zucker, K. J. (2000). Sexual orientation and handedness in men and women: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 575–592.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lezak, M. D. (1995). Neuropsychological assessment (3rd ed.). London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Lippa, R. (1998). Gender-related individual differences and National Merit test performance: Girls who are “masculine” and boys who are “feminine” tend to do better. In L. Ellis & L. Ebertz (Eds.), Males, females, and behavior: Toward biological understanding (pp. 177–193). Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
  29. McCormick, C. M., & Witelson, S. F. (1991). A cognitive profile of homosexual men compared to heterosexual men and women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 15, 459–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meyer-Bahlburg, H. F. L., Dolezal, C., Zucker, K. J., Kessler, S. J., Schober, J. M., & New, M. I. (2006). The Recalled Childhood Gender Questionnaire-revised: A psychometric analysis in a sample of women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Journal of Sex Research, 43, 364–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Money, J., & Epstein, R. (1967). Verbal aptitude in eonism and pre-pubertal effeminacy—a feminine trait. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 29, 448–454.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Neave, N., Menaged, M., & Weightman, D. R. (1999). Sex differences in cognition: The role of testosterone and sexual orientation. Brain and Cognition, 41, 245–262.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nelson, H. E. (1982). The National Adult Reading Test (NART): The manual. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.Google Scholar
  34. Oldfield, R. C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh Inventory. Neuropsychologia, 9, 97–113.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Plöderl, M., & Fartacek, R. (2009). Childhood gender nonconformity and harassment as predictors of suicidality among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual Austrians. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 400–410.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rahman, Q., Abrahams, S., & Wilson, G. D. (2003). Sexual orientation-related differences in verbal fluency. Neuropsychology, 17, 240–246.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Rahman, Q., Clarke, K., & Morera, T. (2009). Hair whorl direction and sexual orientation in human males. Behavioral Neuroscience, 123, 252–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rahman, Q., & Koerting, J. (2008). Sexual orientation-related differences in allocentric spatial memory tasks. Hippocampus, 18, 55–63.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rahman, Q., & Wilson, G. D. (2003). Large sexual orientation related differences in performance on mental rotation and judgement of line orientation. Neuropsychology, 17, 25–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rahman, Q., Wilson, G. D., & Abrahams, S. (2003). Sexual orientation related differences in spatial memory. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 9, 376–383.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rieger, G., Linsenmeier, J. A. W., Gygax, L., & Bailey, J. M. (2008). Sexual orientation and childhood gender nonconformity: Evidence from home videos. Developmental Psychology, 44, 46–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sanders, G., & Ross-Field, L. (1986). Sexual orientation and visuo-spatial ability. Brain and Cognition, 5, 280–290.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sanders, G., & Ross-Field, L. (1987). Neuropsychological development of cognitive abilities: A new research strategy and some preliminary evidence for a sexual orientation model. International Journal of Neuroscience, 36, 1–16.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sanders, G., & Wright, M. (1997). Sexual orientation differences in cerebral asymmetry and in the performance of sexually dimorphic cognitive and motor tasks. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26, 463–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Singer, J. J., MacGregor, A. J., Cherkas, L. F., & Spector, T. D. (2006). Genetic influences of cognitive function using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Intelligence, 34, 421–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tuttle, G. E., & Pillard, R. C. (1991). Sexual orientation and cognitive abilities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20, 307–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wegesin, D. J. (1998). A neuropsychologic profile of homosexual and heterosexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27, 91–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Weinrich, J. D. (1978). Nonreproduction, homosexuality, transsexuality and intelligence: I. A systematic literature search. Journal of Homosexuality, 3, 275–289.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Weinrich, J. D. (1979). On the relationship between homosexuality and IQ test scores: A review and some hypotheses. In R. Forleo & W. Pasini (Eds.), Medical sexology: The third international congress (pp. 312–317). Littleton, MA: PSG Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  50. Willmott, M., & Brierley, H. (1984). Cognitive characteristics and homosexuality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 13, 311–319.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Willshire, D., Kinsella, G., & Prior, M. (1991). Estimating WAIS-R IQ from the National Adult Reading Test: A cross-validation. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 13, 204–2016.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Zucker, K. J., & Bradley, S. J. (1995). Gender identity disorder and psychosexual problems in children and adolescents. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  53. Zucker, K. J., Mitchell, J. N., Bradley, S. J., Tkachuk, J., Cantor, J. M., & Allin, S. M. (2006). The Recalled Childhood Gender Identity/Gender Role Questionnaire: Psychometric properties. Sex Roles, 54, 469–483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Qazi Rahman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Suraj Bhanot
    • 1
  • Hanna Emrith-Small
    • 1
  • Shilan Ghafoor
    • 1
  • Steven Roberts
    • 1
  1. 1.Biological and Experimental Psychology Group, School of Biological and Chemical SciencesQueen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations