Role of biology in sexual orientation
The development of sexual attraction begins in the human body as a glandular response to sex hormones (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). A series of chemical reactions starting in the brain, stimulate the onset of puberty, including the development of sexual characteristics (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Half of all adolescents have had sexual experiences with members of the same sex (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). As sexuality develops, so too does sexual orientation. Many researchers agree that sexual orientation may be related to genetics (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Increased prenatal exposure to masculinizing hormones in girls, and delayed exposure to masculinizing hormones in boys is associated with higher rates of homosexual behavior and fantasies (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Some research points to traits such as handedness and digit ratio as predictors of homosexual or heterosexual orientation (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). In a study of adult lesbian women, individuals who believe their “gayness” is an inborn trait, as opposed to environmental, display higher levels of psychological well-being (Morandini, Blaszczynski, Costa, Godwin, & Dar-Nimrod, 2017).
Role of culture and socialization in sexual orientation
The role of culture and socialization have been identified as factors that contribute to sexual orientation. Many cultures and religions frown upon relationships that are not heterosexual. Unlike the research on biological factors influencing sexual orientation, the research on environmental factors is less conclusive (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Children raised by homosexual partners show no increased likelihood of same-sex orientation (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Differences in values and beliefs may be a social factor that influences sexual orientation. Research has shown that highly valued partner traits in heterosexual men are prioritized by intelligence, good looks, humor, honesty, face attractiveness, and kindness (Lippa, 2007). Partner traits valued by homosexual men were ranked in slightly different order: intelligence, humor, good looks, honesty, face attractiveness, and kindness (Lippa, 2007). The same study suggests that family roles, marital roles, gender roles, and social roles of heterosexual and homosexual individuals can affect sexual orientation (Lippa, 2007).
Role of age in sexual orientation
Sexuality and sexual attraction are evident in children by around age 10 (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Regardless of sexual orientation, most people agree that heterosexual or homosexual orientation is “natural” as opposed to chosen (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Some studies suggest that for one in five adolescents, sexual orientation is fluid and subject to change (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015).
Whereby factors including biology, culture, and social influence contribute to sexual orientation, most people agree that homosexuality and heterosexuality are natural attractions and not categories of choice. There is research supporting the importance of genetics and environment as on sexual orientation (Broderick & Blewitt, 2015). Homosexuals that accept their sexual orientation as “inborn” are likely to have a greater sense of well-being than those who reject their sexuality (Morandini, Blaszczynski, Costa, Godwin, & Dar-Nimrod, 2017).