The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage

Sexual Orientation

What are some of the non-biological causes of homosexuality?

As societies dramatically vary in their attitudes toward homosexuality, we have to assume that cultural attitudes toward homosexuality will affect the prevalence of homosexual behavior. While some people with strong homosexual desires will likely act on them regardless of cultural mores, it is likely that people with milder homosexual tendencies will be more influenced by their cultural context, inhibiting or exploring their desires according to notions of what is acceptable. The availability of heterosexual partners also affects the likelihood of homosexual behavior. In rigidly sex-segregated settings, such as prison, homosexual behavior is quite frequent.

So far, we have addressed the social influences on sexual behavior, not feelings, fantasies, or desire. Recent research suggests that for women more than for men, sexual attraction often follows feelings of intimacy. In this case, sexual desire is influenced by the quality of the relationship. Likewise, in some cases, painful, negative relationships with members of the opposite sex can turn people away from heterosexuality and toward the same sex.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App