Broad Autism Phenotypic Traits and the Relationship to Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behavior

Abstract

Individuals with higher levels of the broad autism phenotype (BAP) have some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Like individuals with ASD, people with higher-BAP may have fewer sexual experiences and may experience more same-sex attraction. This study measured BAP traits, sexual experiences, and sexual orientation in typically developing (TD) individuals to see if patterns of sexual behavior and sexual orientation in higher-BAP resemble those in ASD. Although BAP characteristics did not predict sexual experiences, one BAP measure significantly predicted sexual orientation, β = 0.22, t = 2.72, p = .007, controlling for demographic variables (R2 change = .04, F = 7.41, p = .007), showing individuals with higher-BAP also reported increased same-sex attraction. This finding supports the hypothesis that individuals with higher-BAP resemble ASD individuals in being more likely than TD individuals to experience same-sex attraction.

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Acknowledgments

This study was performed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Master’s Thesis for LRQ, who wishes to acknowledge the members of her committee. Data from this research was also presented as a poster at the International Meeting for Autism Research in San Francisco, CA on May 11th, 2017.

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LRQ conceived of the study idea and design, collected and analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. KH participated in the design and coordination of the study. JFP participated in the study design and data analysis for the study. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lydia R. Qualls.

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Qualls, L.R., Hartmann, K. & Paulson, J.F. Broad Autism Phenotypic Traits and the Relationship to Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behavior. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 3974–3983 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3556-3

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Keywords

  • Broad autism phenotype
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual orientation
  • Same-sex attraction