Same Sex Attraction and social factors

In preparing a publication, I ran across this article:

Same-sex attraction in a birth cohort: prevalence and persistence in early adulthood
Authors: Dickson N.1; Paul C.; Herbison P.
Source: Social Science and Medicine, Volume 56, Number 8, April 2003, pp. 1607-1615(9)

There is a continuing debate about the importance of social versus biological factors in the expression of same-sex attraction. Investigation of prevalence, continuities, and changes over time among young adults growing up in a country with a relatively accepting climate to homosexuality is likely to illuminate this debate. Analyses were therefore undertaken of self-reported same-sex attraction at age 21 and 26, in a cohort of about 1000 people born in 1972/3 in one New Zealand city. Participants were also asked about same-sex behaviour and attitudes to same-sex relationships. By age 26, 10.7% of men and 24.5% of women reported being attracted to their own sex at some time. This dropped to 5.6% of men and 16.4% of women who reported some current same-sex attraction. Current attraction predominantly to their own sex or equally to both sexes (major attraction) was reported by 1.6% of men and 2.1% of women. Occasional same-sex attraction, but not major attraction, was more common among the most educated. Between age 21 and 26, slightly more men moved away from an exclusive heterosexual attraction (1.9% of all men) than moved towards it (1.0%), while for women, many more moved away (9.5%) than towards (1.3%) exclusive heterosexual attraction. These findings show that much same-sex attraction is not exclusive and is unstable in early adulthood, especially among women. The proportion of women reporting some same-sex attraction in New Zealand is high compared both to men, and to women in the UK and US. These observations, along with the variation with education, are consistent with a large role for the social environment in the acknowledgement of same-sex attraction. The smaller group with major same-sex attraction, which changed less over time, and did not differ by education, is consistent with a basic biological dimension to sexual attraction. Overall these findings argue against any single explanation for homosexual attraction.

DOI: 10.1016/S0277-9536(02)00161-2
Affiliations: 1: Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, P.O. Box 913, , Dunedin, New Zealand.

Some of my critics will no doubt say so what, but I had not thought before about why SSA in women would be more prevalent in New Zealand. Any guesses?

11 thoughts on “Same Sex Attraction and social factors”

  1. Let’s not forget the greatest New Zealand films of all, LOTR. Between Frodo/Sam and Eowyn’s gender confusion, it’s a veritable feast for the right ACT therapist.

  2. Hi Dr Throckmorton,

    From a Christian perspective, I was wondering if you ever thought about why God would make SSA the result of a child growing up with a physically or emotionally absent parent? It seems like bad luck for the child. Not only did he have a bad childhood, but he is then also prohibited by God from having any sort of passion in a romantic relationship by not being allowed to act on his sexuality. It seems strange to me that God would choose to make the result of a bad childhood something that he hates most in the world. He could have chosen to make the result of a physically or emotionally absent parent an excessive desire for the adult to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But no, he chose to make SSA the result. This doesn’t make sense. Do you have any thoughts?

  3. It also says “was more common among the most educated”.

    Perhaps that’s the social factor you’re looking for?

    And never mind ACT — I’ve just come up with a new exgay therapy: DeEducation.

    Warren, care to collaborate on a paper for DeEdT?

  4. Hmm…

    Well the report did say that there was a small group with MAJOR SSA who’s SSA was pretty much stable.

    So perhaps for those small group of people, there’s a strong innate drive, whereas for others social factors contribute more?

  5. I’d agree that Whale rider is well worth getting on DVD. The young actor who plays Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) is sensational — an amazing performance.

    Another NZ film well worth seeing is Once Were Warriors. It’s a bit too gritty and depressing for kids to watch, and the scenery is dismal compared to Whale Rider, however the performances are equally amazing. There’s an undercurrent theme about the way Maori society was previously organised that will be missed by most — a clue: slavery and social standing — but it’s key to understanding the characters, and echos of that society are still very much evident today.

    If, however, I ever hear “that haunting theme from The Piano” one more time… I might just throw up. Too late. I wish they’d re-release the film without THAT TUNE.

  6. Thanks, and No.

    That was a backhander for partner, who found everything funny up until that point.

    (You do remember he’s part Maori?)

    I was going to try and slip a sheep joke in there, but that would have been going to far. Don’t want his relatives launching their boats and coming to eat me.

  7. Exodus Answer: a high proportion of NZ fathers molest their daughters. Oh, or lots of NZ girls play sport.

    Reparative Therapy Answer: lots of NZ girls are not affirmed in their feminity. How could they be, as all Enzeders live on farms and do manual labour.

    Warren Throckmorton Answer: They aren’t. There’s no such thing as homosexuality, gays, lesbians, sexual orientation or sexual identity. Even I don’t really exist.
    (But exgays do.)

    Short Answer: have you seen the NZ men????

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