Sexual Orientation Theory

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Sexual orientation and its causes has been a significant topic of discussion and research in psychology throughout the past century. Sexual orientation is defined as “a distinct sense of natural preference and consistent attraction to sexual and romantic partners of a particular sex in the presence of clear, viable alternatives.” Starting with Freud, psychologists began to focus on the development and significance of sexuality. This research has sparked curiosity to the causes of sexual orientation: is it nature, nurture, or a combination of the two? Freud’s and other prominent psychological theories of sexuality assert that nurture, or non-biological factors determine sexuality. Many psychologists since Freud have challenged this idea of…show more content…
Freud originally proposed the first theory of homosexuality, claiming that children who have an absent parent of their same sex and strong attachment to their opposite-sex parents become homosexuals because of a deviation in their psychosexual development. His psychodynamic theory of homosexuality claims that, for a male child, “identification with the mother is an outcome of this attachment,” causing homosexuality. He points to environmental and parenting style as attributing to homosexuality, rather than biological factors. He focuses on attachment and object-relations. However, Freud provides no proof for his theories. Other theories of classical conditioning claim that many homosexuals are rewarded for homoerotic behavior, therefore becoming conditioned to continue these behaviors. This also has a lack of evidence and is disproved by the fact that many cultures praise homosexual acts in men, but the percent of the population identifying as homosexual is the same across all cultures, regardless of whether they honor, punish, or act neutrally towards homosexual behaviors. Although Freud focuses on the “the psychical processes connected with” the origin of homosexuality, he still recognizes the “organic factor” contributing to homosexuality. Existing evidence points to the prevalence of biological…show more content…
Researchers cannot ethically manipulate humans’ sexual orientation, so Ellis and Ames studied the effects of perinatal androgen manipulation on sexual orientation in rats and extended their conclusions to humans. They found that the introduction of testosterone after birth causes female rats to mount other female rats, thus exhibiting a typically male sex trait. Although only rats’ behaviors can be studied, not their self-identification of orientation, their behavior implies a changed sexuality due to the introduced hormones. Hormone manipulation can clearly affect rats’ observable behavior, or their phenotype, and parallels can be drawn between humans and rats because the formation of sexual orientation should be similar in all mammals. For this, Ellis and Ames’ research demonstrating that the manipulation of hormones in nonhuman mammals causes homosexuality should imply that deviations from the normal amount of hormones during gestation or right after birth causes homosexuality in humans. Although researchers cannot randomly assign hormone levels to perform experiments on sexual orientation in humans, they can make use of studies and surveys to imply information about certain
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