Biosocial factors, sexual orientation and neurocognitive functioning

Qazi Rahman, Glenn D Wilson, Sharon Abrahams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

It has been proposed that sexual orientation related differences in cognitive performance are either due to the actions of prenatal factors early in development or the influence of gender role learning. This study examined the performance of 240 healthy, right-handed heterosexual and homosexual males and females (N = 60 per group) on a battery of cognitive tasks comprising mental rotation, judgement of line orientation (JLO), verbal fluency, perceptual speed and object location memory. Measures were also taken of the psychological gender, birth order, sibling sex composition and the 2nd to 4th finger length ratios of the right and left hands. A series of stepwise regression analyses revealed that sex and sexual orientation were the strongest predictors of cognitive performance, with IQ also contributing considerable variance. Psychological gender (M/F scores) added a small, but significant, amount of variance to mental rotation and perceptual speed scores in addition to these main factors, but prenatal hormone related indices, such as 2nd to 4th finger ratios, birth order and sibling sex composition added no independent predictive power. These findings are discussed in relation to biosocial influences on cognitive differences between heterosexuals and homosexuals.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-81
Number of pages15
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Fingers
  • Gender Identity
  • Homosexuality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Puberty
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Space Perception


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