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Fraternal Birth Order and Extreme Right-Handedness as Predictors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Nonconformity in Men

Abstract

The present study explored whether there were relationships between number of older brothers, handedness, recalled childhood gender nonconformity (CGN), and sexual orientation in men. We used data from previous British studies conducted in our laboratory (N = 1,011 heterosexual men and 921 gay men). These men had completed measures of demographic variables, number and sex of siblings, CGN, and the Edinburgh Handedness Inventory. The results did not replicate the fraternal birth order effect. However, gay men had fewer “other siblings” than heterosexual men (even after controlling for the stopping-rule and family size). In a sub-sample (425 gay men and 478 heterosexual men) with data available on both sibling sex composition and handedness scores, gay men were found to show a significantly greater likelihood of extreme right-handedness and non-right-handedness compared to heterosexual men. There were no significant effects of sibling sex composition in this sub-sample. In a further sub-sample (N = 487) with data available on sibling sex composition, handedness, and CGN, we found that men with feminine scores on CGN were more extremely right-handed and had fewer other-siblings compared to masculine scoring men. Mediation analysis revealed that handedness was associated with sexual orientation directly and also indirectly through the mediating factor of CGN. We were unable to replicate the fraternal birth order effect in our archived dataset but there was evidence for a relationship among handedness, sexual orientation, and CGN. These data help narrow down the number of possible neurodevelopmental pathways leading to variations in male sexual orientation.

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Kishida, M., Rahman, Q. Fraternal Birth Order and Extreme Right-Handedness as Predictors of Sexual Orientation and Gender Nonconformity in Men. Arch Sex Behav 44, 1493–1501 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-014-0474-0

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Keywords

  • Sexual orientation
  • Birth order
  • Older brothers
  • Handedness
  • Childhood gender nonconformity