Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Homosexuality caused by imprinting?

Evolutionary psychologist Gordon Gallup has an interesting (if controversial) theory about the origin of both homosexuality and homophobia. I'm unconvinced, but what do I know?  He claims that the orientation is caused (at least in part) by early imprinting. He cites a study (Van Wyk and Geist, 1984) that revealed that males are much more likely to become homosexual if their first masturbation experience is in the presence of another male.

Gallup then suggests that man-boy contact is not uncommon. He refers to another study which found that 80 percent of homosexuals admit to having sex with minors (Goode and Troiden 1980) and that homosexual pedophiles average many more victims (150) than heterosexual pedophiles (20) (Abel et al., 1987). Another study (Cameron, 1985) estimated that homosexuals are 90 to 100 times more likely to become sexually involved with their students than are heterosexuals (I know mainstream researchers hate Cameron).  The rate of recidivism among convicted homosexual pedophiles is also approximately twice that of their heterosexual counterparts (American Psychiatric Association 1994).

Gallup then reports on his own study (unpublished) of adult homosexuals. One out of four gay men had their first homosexual experience (which typically occurs during early adolescence) with a stranger who on average was 15.7 years older than they were. Most of the homosexual males in the sample also reported developing a clear sense of their sexual orientation around the time that they had their first homosexual experience.

Early same-sex experiences also happen with peers, according to Gallup (but he leaves out abuse among minors). 

While this theory alone is a shock, he seems to present it in order to set up the question he is more interested in: why homophobia?  Why are many heteros uncomfortable with homosexuality, while homosexuals don't seem to have an aversion to straights? 

More specifically, why do people fear leaving their children with gay men?  He then hypothesizes that, according to evolutionary theory, parents have a keen interest in the future fertility of their children, and will protect them from anything that would undermine their motivation to reproduce.

Gallup claims that people intuit a connection between homosexual contact and a child's sexual orientation. According to his research, people are much less comfortable with scenarios like a homosexual teacher or pediatrician caring for their child than a homosexual fixing their car or performing surgery on them. They are more comfortable with a child being around a homosexual if the child is an adult rather than if he is still a minor. 

I don't buy it (my bias is biological) but I have found that homosexuals are more likely to report sexual contact as children.       


UPDATE: Gene Expression describes twin research that concludes that heritability for homosexuality is roughly 50 percent. Of course, that is only half the story.  


References

Abel, G., Becker, J., Mittelman, M., Cunningham-Rathner, J., Rouleau, J., and Murphy, W. Self-reported sex crimes of nonincarcerated paraphiliacs. Journal oflnterpersonal Violence 2:3-25, 1987.


American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed. Washington, DC: APA, 1994.


Cameron, P. Homosexual molestation of children: sexual interaction of teacher and pupil. Psychological Reports 57: 1227-1236, 1985.


Gallup, G.G., Jr. Have attitudes toward homosexuals been shaped by natural selection? Ethology and Sociobiology 16: 53-70, 1995.


Goode, E., and Troiden, R.R. Correlates and accompaniments of promiscuous sex among male homosexuals. Psychiatry 43: 51-59, 1980.


Van Wyk, P.H., and Geist, C.S. Psychosocial development of heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual behavior. Archives of Sexual Behavior 13: 505-544, 1984.

13 comments:

Rob S. said...

It is a very difficult idea to credit, but one can remain open-minded to it anyway.

But why doesn't this fecundity-wrecking "virus" of imprinting spread among other taxa? Presumably they are insusceptible to such imprinting, and if so this could certainly be demonstrated experimentally. Why then does the susceptibility exist in man? It would have to be a side-effect, of course, of some other recently-evolved trait that is quite robustly fitness-enhancing. This is certainly possible but it doesn't sound very likely at all.

Underachiever said...

"males are much more likely to become homosexual if their first masturbation experience is in the presence of another male"

Gay teenagers like to masturbate with guys! Who knew?

Tom Bridgeland said...

So...what's new in this? This idea has been around for years.

teacher.paris said...

McDonalds corners the homosexual market in France.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBuKuA9nHsw

Bill said...

While this theory alone is a shock

Is this tongue-in-cheek? This was one of the standard theories prior to the 1970s. And it wasn't evidence which drove the old theories into eclipse.

Anonymous said...

And just how, pray tell, does Mr. Gallup explain the aversion to rough play, the gender atypical interests and play patterns (the oft-termed "feminine behavior") of young children, as young as toddlers, of boys who grow up to be gay? Does he think masturbatory experiences at those young ages have "imprinted" on them and account for gender atypical behavior as well as eventual sexual preferences?


The kooky theories that abound surrounding this topic just astound me.

It would be nice if the riddle of homosexuality were to be solved if for no other reason than we'd no longer have to hear people spout such lunacy any longer.

TGGP said...

Paging Judith Harris. Children have different experiences to a significant degree because they are biologically different.

Anonymous said...

Funny that this hypothesis is nearly identical to the well-accepted (among laymen at least) theory that being molested as a child causes one to molest children. That theory is totally PC.

I remember being 12-14. I could have been raped, but not molested. Unwanted sexual contact from a man would have had to be with a gun to my head or after a severe beating. Chances are that adolescent boys who are easily molested are probably into dudes

Gay teachers have sex with students more frequently than straight students because gay male teachers are having sex with gay students. It happens so often because gay dudes are very promiscuous. Most people had a hot teacher they would have banged. For gay guys, the teacher wanted to as well.

If dude the post talked about is right, why don't we see huge increases in male homosexuality every generation? All it takes is one gay pedophile molesting 20 boys to have 400 boys molested next generation, pretty soon every man would be gay.

rob said...

woops above post by rob.

Anonymous said...

And just how, pray tell, does Mr. Gallup explain the aversion to rough play, the gender atypical interests and play patterns (the oft-termed "feminine behavior") of young children, as young as toddlers, of boys who grow up to be gay?




That's a goofy stereotype. Most male homosexuals do not display "feminine behavior". And many men who do display it are not homosexual.

Anonymous said...

Gay teachers have sex with students more frequently than straight students because gay male teachers are having sex with gay students.



That's a hypothesis in search of some supporting evidence. Unless you assume that the students who gay teachers have sex with are de facto gay themselves (which you do seem to assume) in which case it's just a circular argument.

Anonymous said...

"That's a goofy stereotype. Most male homosexuals do not display 'feminine behavior.'And many men who do display it are not homosexual."

You are flat out wrong. Check out Bailey's studies. as well as many others. http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/JMichael-Bailey/Publications/Bailey%20&%20Zucker,%201995.pdf

A substantial number of gay men were gender atypical in interests, play patterns, mannerisms as kids. This has been found in a number of studies. Stereotypes persist for a reason.

As for gay adult men--I have worked with many gay men over the course of my career and have a few I consider good friends, and with only a handful of exceptions of the most flamboyantly feminine men, these gay men consider themselves to be masculine-acting. I've heard them make fun of queens; I've heard them say that only their close friends at work know they are gay (because they have told them.)

It's not in my nature to tell them, since they are my friends, "No, hon, you are not 'masculine' to either this straight woman's eye nor the eyes of a straight man. People 'know' because they can see and hear."

Do they stick out in a crowd? No, not at all, but anyone working around them for a short time would pick up on certain things like vocal intonation, body movements, etc.

Obviously there are gay men who are as masculine as the "average guy," but that doesn't negate the high numbers of others.

rob said...

Unless you assume that the students who gay teachers have sex with are de facto gay themselves (which you do seem to assume) in which case it's just a circular argument.

Anon, I assume that based on the way straight guys react to gay guys trying to have sex them. Would you have let a male teacher ass-fuck you? Or would you have done your best to kill him when he tried?