Genetic and Environmental Influences on Sexual Orientation

  • Khytam DawoodEmail author
  • J. Michael Bailey
  • Nicholas G. Martin

The primary focus of this chapter is to provide an overview of the evidence to date on the quantitative genetics of sexual orientation, including family and twin studies. The bulk of the available evidence suggests moderate heritability for male sexual orientation. Female sexual orientation has been studied much less extensively, but current studies are consistent with a genetic contribution for women as well (Kirk, Bailey, Dunne, & Martin, 2000; Pattatucci & Hamer, 1995). Familial aggregation has been reported in several family studies of both male and female homosexuality (Dawood & Bailey, 2000), although the genetic and environmental influences on this familial clustering have not been clearly defined by the largest twin studies published thus far, which have produced contradictory results. Recent molecular genetic studies will also be reviewed, including the two main strategies that have been used to date – linkage and association analysis. We will also discuss the implications of recent advances in molecular genetic studies.


Sexual Orientation Affect Sibling Pair Male Homosexuality Childhood Gender Nonconformity Male Sexual Orientation 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khytam Dawood
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Michael Bailey
    • 2
  • Nicholas G. Martin
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Center for Developmental and Health GeneticsPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Genetic EpidemiologyQueensland Institute of Medical ResearchBrisbaneAustralia

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