Childhood Gender-Typed Behavior and Adolescent Sexual Orientation: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study
American Psychological Association
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Li, G., Kung, K., & Hines, M. (2017). Childhood Gender-Typed Behavior and Adolescent Sexual Orientation: A Longitudinal Population-Based Study. Developmental Psychology https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000281
Lesbian and gay individuals have been reported to show more interest in other-sex, and/or less interest in same-sex, toys, playmates, and activities in childhood than heterosexual counterparts. Yet, most of the relevant evidence comes from retrospective studies or from prospective studies of clinically-referred, extremely gender nonconforming children. In addition, findings are mixed regarding the relationship between childhood gender-typed behavior and the later sexual orientation spectrum from exclusively heterosexual to exclusively lesbian/gay. The current study drew a sample (2,428 girls and 2,169 boys) from a population-based longitudinal study, and found that the levels of gender-typed behavior at ages 3.50 and 4.75 years, although less so at age 2.50 years, significantly and consistently predicted adolescents’ sexual orientation at age 15 years, both when sexual orientation was conceptualized as two groups or as a spectrum. In addition, within-individual change in gender-typed behavior during the preschool years significantly related to adolescent sexual orientation, especially in boys. These results suggest that the factors contributing to the link between childhood gender-typed behavior and sexual orientation emerge during early development. Some of those factors are likely to be nonsocial, because nonheterosexual individuals appear to diverge from gender norms regardless of social encouragement to conform to gender roles.
The UK Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: 102215/2/13/2) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This specific study was supported by a Cambridge International Scholarship awarded to Gu Li and by research funding from the Department of Psychology, University of Cambridge.
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000281
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/262671