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A Critical Review of Recent Biological Research on Human Sexual orientation Research Paper

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Updated: May 1st, 2019

Introduction

Are you aware of your sexual orientation? Human sexual orientation is a complex concept. It can be defined as a pattern of emotional or sexual affiliations to the same sex (homosexual), the opposite sex (heterosexual) , both sexes (bisexual / pansexual) and neither (asexual).

There are various factors that can be attributed to the various sexual orientation patterns, some of them being out of personal decisions while others are deemed to be completely out of one’s control as they are brought about by some inner drive or force. There has been a lot of controversy and various perspectives linked with human sexual orientation particularly due to the fact that individuals tend to express varying sexual orientation than it was the case years back (Savin-Williams and Ream 387).

This piece of work gives a critical analysis of the concept of human sexual orientation and all the aspects that surrounds it. This will be made possible through looking at what has been discovered by different authors in the field of biology and psychology and making a critical comparison.

Reasons for development of diverse sexual orientations in humans will be discussed. Much emphasis will be given to the development of diverse sexual orientations in humans, the factors that seem most significant in the development of sexual orientations and the differences in the development of sexual orientation for males and females.

A discussion of how an evolutionary psychologist/biologist would account for the development of different sexual orientations among humans and the scientific evidence that exists to enhance our understanding of the development of sexual orientation will also be offered. Finally, the factors that might explain the persistence of different sexual orientations throughout evolutionary history will be highlighted.

The main articles of discussion are; Mustanski Brian, Bailey Michael and Chivers Meredith. “A Critical Review of Recent Biological Research on Human Sexual Orientation.” The Annual Review of Sex Research Vol 13, 2002, 89-140 and Hammack Phillip. “The Life Course Development of Human Sexual Orientation: An Integrative Paradigm.” Human Development 2005; 48:267–290.

The Development of Diverse Sexual Orientations in Humans

There are various reasons that are attributed to the development of diverse sexual orientations in individuals. Some of them tend to be personal while others are common and generally exhibited or expressed by a majority of people. Sexual orientation is chiefly dependant on the capability of someone to make out the sex of another individual. Sexual orientation in human beings can be perceived to be a learned mental process.

Different individuals have different capabilities in regard to sexual orientation. Innate root mechanisms and cues play a great role in the determination of the sexual orientation in humans. This is through the processing of the information that is received by a child, from the environment (Savin-Williams and Ream 392).

According to Hammack (269), sexual orientation appears at puberty stage. Individuals of the same sexual orientation exhibit similar root mechanisms and cues. Different orientations are as a result of existence of different cues and mechanisms. Development of diverse sexual orientation could also be attributed to different life experiences, which are responsible for personal variations within an orientation (O’Flaherty and Fisher 207).

The Factors That Seem Most Significant In the Development of Sexual Orientations

Some factors have been deemed to be extremely significant in the development of sexual orientations. These factors play different roles in determining the pattern of sexual orientation that an individual chooses. One factor entails innate root cues and mechanisms that develop right from a tender age where a child interacts with the environment (O’Flaherty and Fisher 230).

The experience one passes through in life, as a child, determines the future sexual orientation. Other biological factors that are attributed to development of sexual orientation include prenatal hormones, genetic factors as well as the structure of an individual’s brain (Savin-Williams and Ream 386, Kangassalo, Pölkki, and Rantala 498).

Mustanski, Bailey and Chivers (102) argue that genes influence sexual orientation although the specific genes have not been identified. Hormones are also involved in influencing sexual orientation in humans. Homosexuality is believed to be caused by atypical sex hormone levels in utero where there is a concomitant sex-atypical neural differentiation (O’Flaherty and Fisher 210).

There is also the aspect of developmental instability that can be viewed with regard to fluctuating asymmetry and nonright-handedness (Meredith, Seto and Ray 1110). Number of older brothers is also identified as a factor that influences an individual’s sexual orientation. For instance, having many older brothers is deemed to raise the effects of genes that are responsible for sexual orientation, which in turn lead to hormonal activity in the brain (Mustanski, Bailey and Chivers 91).

Despite individuals maintaining their primary sexual orientations, there are usually some instances of deviations fuelled by different factors and the need to achieve some needs and fulfill inner desires (Hammack 272). For instance, some gay and lesbian individuals may be engaged in sexual relationships with partners belonging to the opposite sex in addition to their homosexual partners.

This could be as a result of issues such as the desire to have a complete family, with children and avoiding aspects such as discrimination by the society and religious banishment (Meredith, Seto and Ray 1118). Some of the individuals hide the relationships from their partners while others are able to strike a balance between maintaining successful marriages and having either gay or lesbian identities (Kangassalo, Pölkki, and Rantala 497).

The Differences between the Development of Sexual Orientations among Males and Females

Sexual orientation in men and women differ. Research findings show that there is a significant difference in the development of sexual orientation in different sexes, male and females. This has been attributed to some factual biological aspects that touch on the genes and their composition (Hammack 286).

Sexual arousal is a good way through which the difference in sexual orientation among males and females could be understood. Women and men are sexually aroused by different things depending on their individual sexual orientation, that is, whether they are homosexual or bisexual (Kangassalo, Pölkki, and Rantala 499; Meredith, Seto and Ray 1108).

Mustanski, Bailey and Chivers (96) asserts that the difference in the development of sexual orientation among men and women could be linked to the fact that the root cues that are transmitted by male individuals are quite different from those transmitted by female individuals. Research shows that girls and boys whose innate brains are influenced by root cues that are transmitted by women are usually sexually attracted to women at puberty stage.

Consequently, boys and girls whose instinctive intellects are tuned to root prompts that are conveyed by men become sexually- spread to men once they reach the puberty phase. The innate tuning is therefore extremely influential in determining an individual’s sexual orientation. The tuning could differ in nature, for instance, it could be as a result of sex hormones concentration during early development stages. It could also be purely genetic (Rahman 1058; Meredith, Seto and Ray 1119).

How an Evolutionary Psychologist/Biologist Would Account For the Development of Different Sexual Orientations among Humans

Various parties have gained interest in the concept of human sexual orientation and have varying perceptions and understanding. An evolutionary psychologist/biologist is an individual who is well vast with the various issues that affect human beings behavior and emotions.

This is due to the career field and what it entails, that is the study of the various aspects that surround living organisms and human beings in particular. For this reason, he or she is expected to effectively account for the development of sexual orientation among humans using factual or scientific arguments (Rahman 1065).

O’Flaherty and Fisher (245) assert that sociobiologists have proposed evolutionary explanations of human sexual orientation particularly homosexuality. The hypothesis put forward assumes that homosexuality should be taken as a discrete trait as opposed to an expression of universal emotional and sexual drives.

Further research states that in order to constitute an evolved trait, homosexuality ought to have a genetic basis. Nonetheless, it is not clear that genetic differences lead to homosexual and heterosexual orientations (Mustanski, Bailey and Chivers 123).

The Scientific Evidence That Exists To Enhance Our Understanding of the Development of Sexual Orientation

In an effort to enhance our understanding on the concept of the development of sexual orientation among human beings, some scientific evidences ought to have been put forth by various individuals and groups. This could be made possible through appropriate research. However, there is no much scientific evidence and some issues are awaiting approval through further research. All in all, biological factors have been identified as the major basis for sexual orientation (Kangassalo, Pölkki, and Rantala 501).

This is despite there being inadequate evidence to demonstrate a biologic theory as it is the case of psychosocial explanations. Despite the fact that behaviors have an ultimate biological substrate, the present status of psychosocial explanations is much relied upon by current biological explanations as opposed to experimental data (Savin-Williams and Ream 391). This therefore shows that there is still a need for more scientific evidence in order to enhance understanding of the concept of human sexual orientation.

The Factors That Might Explain the Persistence of Different Sexual Orientations throughout Evolutionary History

There has been persistence of different sexual orientations throughout evolutionary history. This issue could be explained through evaluation of some factors. However, there is no single factor that has been identified and demonstrated as a sole cause for sexual orientation.

Research shows that different sexual orientations could be attributed to a combination of factors, in different degrees rather than a single factor (Rahman 1062). These factors include environmental, genetic as well as hormonal influences. All these are combined with biological factors which in a special way involve a strategic interaction of the uterine environment and other genetic factors.

The specific biological factors that may in one way or the other help in explaining the persistence of different sexual orientations (asexual, bisexual, homosexual and heterosexual) throughout evolutionary history include the brain structure and its functioning, the genes and their composition as well as prenatal hormones which control an individual right before birth.

These factors play different roles in enhancing our understanding of the topic of discussion. It is through the understanding of the individual factors and their combination that different sexual orientations in humans could be easily understood (Rahman 1063)

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is evident that the concept of human sexual orientation is wide and complex, involving a variety of controversial issues. Sexual orientation is influenced by biological factors to a certain degree. This can be seen from the research studies carried out by various parties as discussed earlier. Various reasons for the development of diverse sexual orientations in human beings have been put forth by different authors.

There are also a number of factors that have been attributed to the development of the different sexual orientations in human beings, for instance, genes. Research has also indicated that there is a significant difference in the patterns of sexual orientation that can be seen among male and female individuals. It is clear that there have been different perceptions with respect to the issue of sexual orientation among human beings with each party having different views.

All in all, some consensus could be reached through carrying out of research to come up with scientific evidence. It is through factual reasoning that a psychologist or biologist would account for the development of different sexual orientations among human beings. This would greatly clear the different doubts that could exist among individuals.

Through effective research, there has been some scientific evidence that exists to enhance our understanding of the development of sexual orientation rather than depending on some speculations. Persistence of different sexual orientations throughout evolutionary history can be associated with various factors, for instance, brain structure and prenatal hormones.

Works Cited

Hammack, Phillip. “The Life Course Development of Human Sexual Orientation: An Integrative Paradigm.” Human Development 2005; 48:267–290.

Kangassalo, Katariina, Pölkki, Mari and Rantala Markus. “Prenatal Influences on Sexual Orientation: Digit Ratio (2D:4D) and Number of Older Siblings.” Evolutionary Psychology, 2011. 9(4): 496-508.

Meredith L. Chivers, Seto C. Michael and Ray Blanchard. “Gender and sexual orientation differences in sexual response to sexual activities versus gender of actors in sexual films.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 2007, Vol 93(6):1108-1121.

Mustanski, Brian, Bailey, Michael and Chivers Meredith. “A Critical Review of Recent Biological Research on Human Sexual Orientation.” The Annual Review of Sex Research Vol 13, 2002, 89-140.

O’Flaherty Michael and Fisher John. “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and International Human Rights Law: Contextualizing the Yogyakarta Principles.” Human Rights Law Review, 2008, Vol.8 (2): 207-248.

Rahman, Qazi. “The neurodevelopment of human sexual orientation.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2005, Vol. 29 (7):1057-1066.

Savin-Williams C. Ritch and Ream L. Geoffrey. “Prevalence and Stability of Sexual Orientation Components during Adolescence and Young Adulthood.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2006, Vol. 36 (3): 385-394.

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