Society's attitudes have little impact on choice of sexual partner

Jun 16, 2008

A unique new study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institute suggests that the attitude of families and the public have little impact on if adults decide to have sex with persons of the same or the opposite sex. Instead, hereditary factors and the individual's unique experiences have the strongest influence on our choice of sexual partners.

The study is the largest in the world so far and was performed in collaboration with the Queen Mary University of London. More than 7,600 Swedish twins (men and women) aged 20-47 years responded to a 2005 - 2006 survey of health, behaviour, and sexuality. Seven percent of the twins had ever had a same-sex sexual partner.

"The results show, that familial and public attitudes might be less important for our sexual behaviour than previously suggested", says Associate Professor Niklas Långström, one of the involved researchers. "Instead, genetic factors and the individual's unique biological and social environments play the biggest role. Studies like this are needed to improve our basic understanding of sexuality and to inform the public debate."

The conclusions apply equally well to why people only have sex with persons of the opposite sex as to why we have sex with same-sex partners. However, the conclusions are more difficult to transfer to countries where non-heterosexual behaviour remains prohibited.

Overall, the environment shared by twins (including familial and societal attitudes) explained 0-17% of the choice of sexual partner, genetic factors 18-39% and the unique environment 61-66%. The individual's unique environment includes, for example, circumstances during pregnancy and childbirth, physical and psychological trauma (e.g., accidents, violence, and disease), peer groups, and sexual experiences.

Source: Karolinska Institutet

Explore further: Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Lifestyle determines gut microbes

Apr 15, 2014

An international team of researchers has for the first time deciphered the intestinal bacteria of present-day hunter-gatherers.

Japan's gaming market is a world apart

Sep 22, 2013

The latest version of blockbuster videogame Grand Theft Auto may have stoked a worldwide buying frenzy, but the ultra-violent offering is likely to be a minnow in Japan's vast gaming market.

Human hybrids: a closer look at the theory and evidence

Jul 25, 2013

There was considerable fallout, both positive and negative, from our first story covering the radical pig-chimp hybrid theory put forth by Dr. Eugene McCarthy, a geneticist who's proposing that humans first arose ...

Recommended for you

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

13 hours ago

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jenk
not rated yet Jun 16, 2008
Well that says pretty much nothing.