Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Sexual orientation


We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. The analysis presented is based on a dataset of over 58,000 volunteers who provided their Facebook Likes, detailed demographic profiles, and the results of several psychometric tests. The proposed model uses dimensionality reduction for preprocessing the Likes data, which are then entered into logistic/linear regression to predict individual psychodemographic profiles from Likes. The model correctly discriminates between homosexual and heterosexual men in 88% of cases, African Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrat and Republican in 85% of cases. For the personality trait “Openness,” prediction accuracy is close to the test-retest accuracy of a standard personality test. We give examples of associations between attributes and Likes and discuss implications for online personalization and privacy.

Concepts: Psychology, Personality psychology, White American, Sexual orientation, African American, Neuroticism, Trait theory, Heterosexuality


Family and twin studies suggest that genes play a role in male sexual orientation. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of male sexual orientation on a primarily European ancestry sample of 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men using Affymetrix single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. We identified several SNPs with p < 10-5, including regions of multiple supporting SNPs on chromosomes 13 (minimum p = 7.5 × 10-7) and 14 (p = 4.7 × 10-7). The genes nearest to these peaks have functions plausibly relevant to the development of sexual orientation. On chromosome 13, SLITRK6 is a neurodevelopmental gene mostly expressed in the diencephalon, which contains a region previously reported as differing in size in men by sexual orientation. On chromosome 14, TSHR genetic variants in intron 1 could conceivably help explain past findings relating familial atypical thyroid function and male homosexuality. Furthermore, skewed X chromosome inactivation has been found in the thyroid condition, Graves' disease, as well as in mothers of homosexual men. On pericentromeric chromosome 8 within our previously reported linkage peak, we found support (p = 4.1 × 10-3) for a SNP association previously reported (rs77013977, p = 7.1 × 10-8), with the combined analysis yielding p = 6.7 × 10-9, i.e., a genome-wide significant association.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Chromosome, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Heterosexuality


We conducted a direct test of an immunological explanation of the finding that gay men have a greater number of older brothers than do heterosexual men. This explanation posits that some mothers develop antibodies against a Y-linked protein important in male brain development, and that this effect becomes increasingly likely with each male gestation, altering brain structures underlying sexual orientation in their later-born sons. Immune assays targeting two Y-linked proteins important in brain development-protocadherin 11 Y-linked (PCDH11Y) and neuroligin 4 Y-linked (NLGN4Y; isoforms 1 and 2)-were developed. Plasma from mothers of sons, about half of whom had a gay son, along with additional controls (women with no sons, men) was analyzed for male protein-specific antibodies. Results indicated women had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than men. In addition, after statistically controlling for number of pregnancies, mothers of gay sons, particularly those with older brothers, had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than did the control samples of women, including mothers of heterosexual sons. The results suggest an association between a maternal immune response to NLGN4Y and subsequent sexual orientation in male offspring.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, LGBT, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Heterosexuality


Information about the health behaviours of minority groups is essential for addressing health inequalities. We evaluated the association among lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) sexual orientation identity and smoking and alcohol use in young people in England.

Concepts: LGBT, Sociology, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality


Objectives. We investigated health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 years and older. Methods. We analyzed data from the 2003-2010 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 96 992) on health outcomes, chronic conditions, access to care, behaviors, and screening by gender and sexual orientation with adjusted logistic regressions. Results. LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print June 13, 2013: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110).

Concepts: Health care, LGBT, Epidemiology, Population health, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Gay


A variety of social, developmental, biological and genetic factors influence sexual orientation in males. Thus, several hypotheses have attempted to explain the sustenance of genetic factors that influence male homosexuality, despite decreased fecundity within the homosexuals. Kin selection, the existence of maternal effects and two forms of balancing selection, sexually antagonistic selection and overdominance, have been proposed as compensatory mechanisms for reduced homosexual fecundity. Here, we suggest that the empirical support for kin selection and maternal effects cannot account for the low universal frequency and stability of the distribution of homosexuals. To identify the responsible compensatory mechanism, we analyzed fecundity in 2,100 European female relatives, i.e., aunts and grandmothers, of either homosexual or heterosexual probands who were matched in terms of age, culture and sampling strategy. Female relatives were chosen to avoid the sampling bias of the fraternal birth order effect, which occurs when indirectly sampling mothers though their homosexual sons. We observed that the maternal aunts and grandmothers of homosexual probands were significantly more fecund compared with the maternal aunts and maternal grandmothers of the heterosexual probands. No difference in fecundity was observed in the paternal female lines (grandmothers or aunts) from either of the two proband groups. Moreover, due to the selective increase in maternal female fecundity, the total female fecundity was significantly higher in homosexual than heterosexual probands, thus compensating for the reduced fecundity of homosexuals. Altogether, these data support an X-linked multi-locus sexually antagonistic hypothesis rather than an autosomal multi-locus overdominance hypothesis.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Heterosexuality


Many previous studies have reported robust sex differences in olfactory perception. However, both men and women can be expected to vary in the degree to which they exhibit olfactory performance considered typical of their own or the opposite sex. Sex-atypicality is often described in terms of childhood gender nonconformity, which, however, is not a perfect correlate of non-heterosexual orientation. Here we explored intrasexual variability in psychophysical olfactory performance in a sample of 156 individuals (83 non-heterosexual) and found the lowest odor identification scores in heterosexual men. However, when childhood gender nonconformity was entered in the model along with sexual orientation, better odor identification scores were exhibited by gender-nonconforming men, and greater olfactory sensitivity by gender-conforming women, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Thus, sex-atypicality, but not sexual orientation predicts olfactory performance, and we propose that this might not be limited to olfaction, but represent a more general phenomenon.

Concepts: Gender, Sense, Olfaction, Odor, Sexual orientation, Transgender, Olfactory fatigue, Heterosexuality


Medical professionals' attitude towards homosexuals affects health care offered to such patients with a different sexual orientation. There is absence of literature that explores the attitudes of Indian medical students or physicians towards homosexuality.

Concepts: Health care, Health care provider, Medicine, Physician, Illness, Sexual orientation, Health science, Homosexuality


Transgender individuals have a gender identity that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. The population size of transgender individuals in the United States is not well-known, in part because official records, including the US Census, do not include data on gender identity. Population surveys today more often collect transgender-inclusive gender-identity data, and secular trends in culture and the media have created a somewhat more favorable environment for transgender people.

Concepts: United States, Gender, Gender role, Gender identity, Sexual orientation, Transgender, Third gender, Homosexuality


‘Medicalisation’ of same sex relations is a phenomenon that reached its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. The rise of gay liberation produced a divisive political contest with the psychiatric profession and adherents of the orthodox ‘medical model’ in the United States and - to a lesser extent - in the United Kingdom. This socio-historical process occurred throughout the English-speaking world, but much less is known about its dynamics in smaller countries such as New Zealand where the historiography on this issue is very sparse. The methodology situates New Zealand within a transnational framework to explore the circulation of medical theories and the critical responses they were met with. The article is anchored around three key local moments in the 1970s to consider the changing terrain on which ideas about homosexuality and psychiatry were constantly rearranged during this decade. This power struggle took a number of twists and turns, and the drive toward medicalisation alternated with a new impetus to de-medicalise same-sex sexuality.

Concepts: LGBT, United Kingdom, English language, Commonwealth of Nations, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Gay