Nature Nurture

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AllPsych Journal
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture
Ryan D. Johnson
April 30, 2003
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In recent decades, many hotly debated topics have come under the scrutiny of sociobiologists, trying to determine their causation and origins. One such topic is homosexuality. Originally thought by the American Psychological Association (hereafter referred to as APA) to be a mental disorder, research into its causes, origins, and development have consequently led to its removal by the APA from its list of diagnoses and disorders [1]. Many different theories can be found regarding the root of homosexuality, as far back historically as Ancient Greece. The current debate is whether or not homosexuality is a result of nature: a person's environment and surroundings, or of his biology and genetics. The debate endures because both sides have the ability to create a scientific environment to support their cause. For example, biological theorists may argue that a monkey and human child, reared in the same setting, will develop with vastly different outcomes, while social theorists may argue that monozygotic twins, one reared normally and the other raised in seclusion for 18 years, will also develop with vastly different results, but different even more from the first scenario [4]. In debating sexual orientation, much is unknown; according to Charles Darwin, "...we do not even in the least know the final cause of sexuality. The whole subject is hidden in darkness." [2]. Although the APA currently states that sexual orientation is not a choice, rather that "...it emerges from most people in early adolescence with no prior sexual experience"[1], social theorists argue that an individual's upbringing can directly influence this [sexual orientation]. Also tied in with many of these debates is the morality of homosexuality. But the purpose of this examination is not to prove whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong, but rather to establish a thorough understanding of the biological and social theories surrounding the cause of homosexuality. Let us first look at the biological debate. Biological theorists have found substantial instances of anatomical, genetic, and endocrine evidence to support their argument. Experiments in biological research date back as far as the late 1930's, beginning with the pioneering research of Alfred Kinsey (for the University of Indiana) on human sexuality. Kinsey had two goals for his tests: 1) to find out how many adult males engaged in homosexual behaviour, and 2) to suggest theories about it came to be [9]. When asked if they had engaged in homosexual sexual relations, a large percentage of the population tested answered "no", however when asked if they had engaged in same-sex sexual relations, the percentage answering "yes" nearly doubled. The experiment yielded that 30% of males had experienced at least orgasm in a homosexual act. The results of this research became the widely popularized Kinsey Scale of Sexuality. This scale rates all individuals on a spectrum of sexuality, ranging from 100% heterosexual to 100% homosexual, and everything in between [7]. While establishing that as many as 10% of adult males reported having sexual relations with a same-sex partner, this research did little more than to put the word homosexual into common language. Karen Hooker executed the first psychological test done to test for biological determinism in 1957, on a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health [2]. The study was meant to explore the relationship between homosexuality and psychological development and illness. Hooker studied both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Both groups were matched for age, intelligence quotient (IQ) and education level, and were then subjected to three psychological tests. These three tests, the...
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