Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 12, pp 3974–3983 | Cite as

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

  • Lydia R. QuallsEmail author
  • Kathrin Hartmann
  • James F. Paulson
Original Paper


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.


Broad autism phenotype Sexual behavior Sexual orientation Same-sex attraction 



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.

Author Contributions

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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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lydia R. Qualls
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kathrin Hartmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • James F. Paulson
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Virginia Consortium Program for Clinical PsychologyNorfolkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesEastern Virginia Medical SchoolNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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