A new report in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest provides “a comprehensive review of the scientific research on sexual orientation.” Based on the latest research, the researchers draw several conclusions:
- Across cultures, a “small but nontrivial” percentage of people have non-heterosexual feelings. The specific expression of sexual orientation varies widely according to cultural norms and traditions, but research suggests that individuals’ sexual feelings are likely to develop in similar ways around the world.
- Men’s and women’s sexual orientations manifest in different ways: Men’s sexual orientation is more closely linked to their patterns of sexual arousal than women’s sexual orientation is.
- Various biological factors—including prenatal hormones and specific genetic profiles—are likely to contribute to sexual orientation, though they are not the sole cause. Scientific evidence suggests that biological and non-social environmental factors jointly influence sexual orientation.
- Scientific findings do not support the notion that sexual orientation can be taught or learned through social means. And there is little evidence to suggest that non-heterosexual orientations become more common with increased social tolerance.
Lead author J. Michael Bailey argues, “Sexual orientation is an important human trait, and we should study it without fear, and without political constraint. The more controversial a topic, the more we should invest in acquiring unbiased knowledge and science is the best way to acquire unbiased knowledge.”