Disclaimer: I should say I am not a psychologist or biologist, though I have a few college level courses in the prior which probably color my view. In addition, I am not sexually a homosexual and have no personal experience with that aspect of it, though it piques my intellectual interest. Also, I am European (this is apparently a synonym to many).


Question: Do you tend to support a psychological or a biological explanation to why some people are homosexuals? Do you have a "pure" or a "mixed" view of the two, and why?


My opinion: I tend to support the psychological explanation of sexuality due to it being more parsimonious. Being "born" a homosexual doesn't immediately ring clear as a biological explanation requires a number of a priori assumptions of future state of the social environment as one grows up. Two people of the same sex cannot biologically reproduce and thus face extinction. Becoming a homosexual through the psychosocial environment is to me a simpler explanation as this would imply it being either a learned behavior, which may account for homosexual couples having a higher probability of raising a homosexual child, or as a response to other environmental factors such as sexual competition.

I'll stop explaining here and rather see where the discussion goes off to.


(Two notes to add: I don't think homosexuality should be treated even if it is "treatable". It is no more a condition than preferring beer over vodka. Also, I tend to support a twin explanation of both inherited and environmental causes, though with the latter overwhelmingly more explanatory, i.e. 90%)



Tags: biology, environment, homosexuality, inherited traits, psychology

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BTW, to add another data point to the discussion... Homosexuality has been observed in many other mammals. Cetaceans (e.g. dolphins, porpoises, orcas) have demonstrated this, as well as many primates such as chimps, bonobo apes, etc.


I believe this would give more credence to the genetic argument.

I don't understand why we need to decide the why!!!!!!! It's a personal choice. And nobody's business but the consenting adults.

We don't decide the 'why'; we increase our knowledge base to better understand.  I can understand why many GLBT people (and supporters) find endless, politicized conjecture on the subject matter offensive, but it doesn't bother me at all.  Increased curiosity could mean a bit of increased impetus for proper research.

I think the word "choice" needs some clarification. I don't like celery or peanuts, indeed I have a physical gag reflection to the taste, yet I am not allergic thus no genetic predispositions to not "liking" it. Somewhere in my psychology there is a reason, yet I would hardly call it a conscious choice not to like those things.In addition, I have no objections to other people enjoying their celery or peanuts, as long as they don't try to force me to eat it.

It's much like homosexuality, the mere thought of having sex with a man is disgusting to me and I assume the same reaction for having sex with opposite genders apply to homosexuals. It doesn't mean that it is 100% genetically caused (nor 0%) or that psychology is a free willed choice.

People are free to be attracted to whatever (within reason) they damned well please, whether it be the same sex, the color neon pink, celery - even peanuts (though that might be pushing it in my book).

OK Let me put it this way: However consenting adults conduct their private sexual lives is nobody's business. choice schmoice! My only problem is that, too often, heteros don't think about the consequences and resposibilities of bringing a baby into the world. Yes, I'm guilty but I'm 73 and it took awhile to get out from under the attempted brainwashing that a woman wasn't worth anything unless she got married an made babies ( I love my "babies" dearly - it wasn't their fault). Oh for the day when sexual orientation will no longer need to be haggled about.!

"Oh for the day when sexual orientation will no longer need to be haggled about.!"

This is pretty much it.

I am amused that people care so much instead of just being intellectually interested. I mean, what if the irrefutable argument came across that we should all behave bisexually? Would make Saturday nights much more interesting. ;)

In the past i though it was biological.... many animals that have sex for pleasure and not pure procreation do it (although im not sure if any are exclusively homosexual or bisexual) and we are such animals so there's no reason why it wouldnt be natural for humans as well.

However, i was recently informed by a med school student (so im assuming they have more knowlege on the subject than i do) that sexuality is a spectrum, and different individuals fall into that spectrum at different places...homosexuality being on one end, straight on the other, and bisexual falling in the middle. also, he mentioned that it may be a possibility that we are all inherently bisexual, but our environment and societal influences cause us to move along the spectrum toward one end or the other. He also said so far it has not been proven that anything affects the spectrum other than environment, but i know some homosexuals that say they've known since they were three so that might suggest something biological going on there. 

LOL - your answer sounds hauntingly familiar to mine.


Great minds think alike and all that... ;)

Haha I hadn't even read that when I posted. That's amazing that you came up with that yourself. I, on the other hand, learned it from someone I figured was qualified enough to know what they were talking about. So you must be on to something!

Your med school student friend isn't wrong; it's just that the summarized information you've provided really only speaks to the fact that our knowledge of sexual orientation and identity isn't actually all that great.  


Furthermore, there doesn't seem to be solid consensus on how terms are defined across all research groups.  It could very well be that there are biological, psychological, and sociological factors all simultaneously at play.  Depending on sexual orientation is defined, you might skew the results to favour one explanation over another, but if sexual orientation really is multifaceted, then it might need a multifaceted definition.


He also said so far it has not been proven that anything affects the spectrum other than environment...


There's a difference between what is proven and what there is currently evidence for.  A biological explanation for sexual orientation may not yet be proven, but it does have scientific evidence supporting it.  At present time, there just haven't been a ton of resources dedicated to the issue, so it's not at all surprising that our level of knowledge in the area is currently not all that advanced.

Oh yes, I definitely agree. We have a very limited amount of knowledge on the subject, and I also think its possible that various factors can influence it. 

In regards to what he said about it not being proven that anything but environmental factors affect the spectrum, I should clarify that. He said that in response to my initial assumption that biology purely plays a part based on other animal behavior. I think he was just pointing out that there's not enough to build a biological argument at the moment. 

I think it's a shame that there aren't many resources dedicated to researching it. I know a number of people feel that its unimportant to research or its personal business, but like any research, there is always a benefit to understanding how we and the universe work, whether it be understanding the human brain better, our history as a species, or even just acquiring enough information to help reduce the prejudice surrounding this topic. 

Biological, hands down, no question. If it were psychological, then dolphins, rams, and many other mammals would have to learn it. When their is a good idea even as to HOW they learn it, be my guest and tell me.



I am not aware that homosexuals have a higher chance of raising homosexual kids, and I question your sources.


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