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The Psychology Behind Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture?

Updated on August 31, 2016
  • A timeline of the earliest documented findings in reference to homosexuality.

"Homosexuality is as old as mankind..."

However, in this article, I plan to focus on some of the “recent” happenings within the scientific community; in regards to homosexuality and the nature or nurture debate.

I hope to explain why theorists believe the way they do and what evidence they have to base those beliefs on.

Is Homosexuality a Mental Disorder?

Homosexuality was originally thought to be a mental disorder as recorded by the American Psychological Association (APA) in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health (DSM). It was only after intense research and uproar that homosexuality was removed from the DSM by the APA in the year 1973.

1907-1996 | Source

Thank You Evelyn Hooker

Evelyn Hooker is better known as the woman whose research was responsible for the removal of homosexuality from the DSM.

Evelyn's' studies focused on small control groups with similar IQ's, education, and socioeconomic statuses.

Hookers' findings concluded that homosexuality was not a mental disorder but rather a choice.

The statistics of Hooker's research led to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM; again thank you Evelyn Hooker for paving the road towards the way to acceptance.

The scientific community...

the inquisitive beings they are; MUST ask questions.

Certainly this new found personality trait has it's standing in the mental health community.


If homosexuality is no longer classified as a mental disorder what is it?

What contributes to it? Are people born gay? Is it environmental? Hereditary? What's the deal?

Things are never "just because" within the scientific community.

So without further ado.....

Click thumbnail to view full-size

The Nature Debate of Homosexuality.

Some of the research explained below supports the theories that homosexuality is in fact a genetic difference between human beings. Please keep in mind this is only SOME of the research.

Hypothalamus Differences

Scientists D.F. Swaab, Laura S. Allen, and Simon LeVay focused their studies on postmortem examination of the hypothalamus (“the pleasure center”) areas of the brain. Their findings were similar; some parts of hypothalamus were larger in that of homosexual brains than in the brains of proclaimed heterosexuals.

Testing The Neuroendocrine Systems

The idea behind this theory is that sexual orientation is determined by early (prenatal) exposure to androgen's in regards to the neural structures. These tests are focused on the theory that if a fetus is exposed to higher than normal androgen's the fetus will be "masculineized” regardless of predetermined gender.If the fetus is exposed to less than "normal" levels of androgen's in utero the fetus will become "feminized".

Twin Studies

Studies conducted on male homosexual twins seem to suggest that the more closely genetically linked a pair is, the more likely they both are to exhibit gay tendencies.

DNA Studies

During the examination of family trees of openly gay men a maternal link was discovered. DNA samples from homosexual men were obtained and genetically examined. A correlation was made for 5 genetic markers on section of the X-Chromosome mainly on the mothers’ side.

The Nurture Debate of Homosexuality.

The testing below supports the theory that homosexuality is influenced by one's environment. The research studies below suggest that homosexuality is indeed a product of one's environment (nurture). Please note only SOME of the research the nurture argument of homosexuality is represented.

Gender Identification (Gender ID)

This theory suggests that children begin to identify with one gender or another early on. It is argued that children are "taught" which gender to identify with. A simple explanation of this would be boys were blue, play sports etc. Girls wear pink, do ballet etc. By manipulating our children we are in essence conforming to the theory of Parental Manipulation.

Kin-Selection Theory

This theory suggests that children born into a family where a homosexual siblings is already practicing non-conforming gender identity paves the way for other children to do the same.

How We Relate To Care Givers

This idea suggests that a weak father and strong mother may lead to a homosexual son. Mainly because the mother has too strong of an image, compared to the "weak" state of the father. However SOME do argue that the son may become more masculinised in an "attempt" to make up for the father's weak image.

The Depth of Desire Theory

This theory suggests that homosexuality is strictly confined to sexual desire and that homosexuality is nothing more than superficial tastes and preferences. Theoretically a child or young adult could choose a preference for one organ (penis or vagina) over the other. With no other factors coming into play.


Are individuals born gay?

See results

Did You Know?

  • According to the American Psychological Association sexual orientation is not a choice, "it emerges for most in early adolescence (9-15) with no prior sexual experience".
  • Research shows that kids with extreme gender nonconformity usually grow up to be gay.
  • In 1975 the APA released a public statement that homosexuality was not a mental disorder. In 1994, the APA finally stated, "...homosexuality is neither a mental illness nor a moral depravity. It is the way a portion of the population expresses human love and sexuality".
  • Most social theorists see childhood elements and/or environments as the largest contributing factors to homosexuality.
  • It's estimated that 25% of the population in the United States is homosexual.


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    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

      18 months ago from Philippines

      This is a great article where all sides are documented and fairly presented. It is a great learning experience for me.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Florida

      Vincent I'm going to try 100% to keep my beliefs out of this because this hub was not really about your beliefs or mine it was about the psychology or science behind homosexuality.

      That said. If someone is NOT born gay (nature) your saying it is nurture and one's home life that "makes" them gay? How do you explain gay siblings who grew up in the same home as their hetero siblings? Would they not have the same leaders in the home? And basically where did those leaders go wrong? Was their not a strong maternal role model for daughters or paternal for sons? Is life all about fitting into these roles? And who exactly created the "correct" roles? And what era of roles do we abide by? Do women get to work? Or do we go back farther then that?

      I'm afraid that saying gay is a choice.... "PERIOD" is 100% your opinion and you know what they say about opinions....they are like _______________, everyone has one. Thanks for stopping by to see me! :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      So, you are born gay? Being gay is a choice....PERIOD. One with conform to it's environment. Children have a lack of correct leadership when growing up in the home. Molestation also plays a huge part in this choice. It is not natural behavior.

      Between abortion and the gay movement as a long with it take for the human race to go extinct? Or will we be judged before then?

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      I also believe "Homosexuality is as old as mankind..." We are straight does not mean we we have to disapprove homosexuality. What I find disgusting about people's attitude is they try to mix sexuality with religion.

      I have read about nurture and nature debate,and I find it very interesting. Thanks for this wonderfully researched article.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hey Brett,

      I always said if I went forward for my doctrate in psychology this would be the main focus of my thesis. I enjoy this topic because it is so closely related to myself and my loved ones. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

      Thanks for stopping by, commenting and sharing!


    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 

      6 years ago from Asia

      Interesting and very well researched. I think that it is both nature and nurture. I have known people who have just felt that way since a long age, and others who seem to have made the decision after some bad experiences. However, either way, if you look at nature, being gay or bi is very common. As you say, so long as they are happy, it doesn't really matter what they choose/are.

      Shared, up and interesting.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hey Angela,

      Thanks for stopping by to see me. The research for me is the "fun" part.


    • Angela Blair profile image

      Angela Blair 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Excellent writing and research -- thanks for sharing this one. Best/Sis

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hey girishpuri,

      Thanks for stoping by, reading my article and commenting! :)


    • girishpuri profile image

      Girish puri 

      6 years ago from NCR , INDIA

      Very good, thought provoking points and an insightful hub, voted up.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida


      I agree with you on the fact that people need to get a life; I think that sums it up quite nicely. Thank you for stopping by and seeing me billy.


    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I don't know if I'm getting notifications on your hubs, Becky! This one slipped by me somehow. Having said that, this is a fascinating subject and quite honestly I don't know enough to answer the question you posed. I do know I don't care if someone is homosexual or not.....and people who do really need to get a life. I'm all about love and I don't much care who anyone loves, just as long as they love.

      Nice job of covering this; you have raised some great questions and provided some interesting information.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Yeah...someday :)

    • eHealer profile image


      6 years ago from Las Vegas

      Right on, Rfordin, someday people will understand that human rights are not a matter of taste.

    • Rfordin profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Florida

      Hey eHealer,

      "Sexuality is primal"... I like that.

      I hope that one day society does "back down" and let us all be who we are sexually, physically, mentally etc. I foresee a continued bumpy ride for the majority of people who do not fit the "mold" though.

      Thanks for stopping by!!!


    • eHealer profile image


      6 years ago from Las Vegas

      Great subject and one I'm interested in (anything with biology or the mind). I believe that sexuality is so primal that it is not a choice and is decided before birth. No one can be persuaded effectively, as numerous studies in medical literature attest to, to become heterosexual or homosexual by any known means. Sexually is innate, and people are born into who they are. I only hope that someday society can at least respect other's alternative lifestyles, and stop the suppression of sexuality, that we know causes "deviance" in society. Thanks for the great hub! Voted up and shared!


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