Evolutionary Psychological Science

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 71–86 | Cite as

The Evolution of Human Female Sexual Orientation

  • Austin John JefferyEmail author
  • Todd K. Shackelford
  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
  • Jennifer Vonk
  • Melissa McDonald
Theoretical Article


Female sexual orientation has received less theoretical and empirical attention than male sexual orientation and few reviews are devoted to female sexual orientation. Moreover, research investigating female sexual orientation often underappreciates insights afforded by evolutionary theory. This review begins with an overview of the literature on female sexual identification, sexual perception, sexual fluidity, sexual expression, and the biology of female sexual orientation. Female same-sex sexual behaviors in the non-human apes are then described, providing a comparative context for the following discussion of hypotheses for the evolution of human female same-sex sexual attractions and behaviors. These hypotheses are organized as byproduct hypotheses or adaptation hypotheses and we include discussions of dysfunction, heterosis, sexual antagonism, epigenetics, weak selection, self-domestication, sexual frustration, mate attraction, alloparenting, polygyny, and other topics. We conclude by highlighting the challenges posed by evolutionary studies of human psychology.


Evolution Female homosexuality Female sexuality Sexual orientation 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Austin John Jeffery
    • 1
    Email author
  • Todd K. Shackelford
    • 1
  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
    • 1
  • Jennifer Vonk
    • 1
  • Melissa McDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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