23 July 2014

Philosophy of Religion Course - Surrey Adult Learning

Hello Readers!

Are you all having a good summer?  I hope so.  I've been very busy locked into my flat, splitting my time between analysing my data for my newest psychology experiment and lesson planning my new class for Surrey Adult Learning: Philosophy and Religion.

One thing that always surprises me is how often people assume that because I'm a psychologist I have automatically shut off exploring the world of religion and philosophy.  Would it surprise you to know that actually it was a core part of my Bachelors degree in psychology?  The critical thinking skills are invaluable to psychological thinking and remember, before psychology existed, philosophy of religion was the primary way to explain for human behaviour.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, there is a great deal to be learned from the Philosophy underpinning the belief in a higher power.  If you would like to learn more about this course, please have a look at my Facebook Event I created with the link below.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to be posting discussion questions to start debating and get people thinking on Facebook.  

Feel free to drop me a line if ever you want to say hi.  I'm terribly bored waiting for September to come around again so I would love to hear from you.

9 April 2014

AQA “A” AS Unit 1; Chapter 1 & 2: Models of Memory Practice Worksheet

I kind of surprised myself as this worksheet I designed has turned out to be a very simple but useful resources for memorizing the models of memory.

To A-level students I remind you, in your exam drawing accurate diagrams is credit worthy as long as your diagram is accurate, well described and has a title.  I think the models of memory unit is difficult, so get in touch with your artistic side and start by labeling the models and then move on to drawing them from scratch!

Download the worksheet here!

4 April 2014

Upcoming Events for Summer 2014 at The Tutor King

Hi All!

There is lots of upcoming events for Summer 2014 here at The Tutor King of Hampton Court.

Throughout April 2014, 14:00 at Birkbeck University

Hosted by Birkbeck Psychological Society, The Tutor King of Hampton Court is doing a three-week statistics revision course for Birkbeck students. This free course will include tutorials on when to use what test, how to write results for APA, and demonstrations on SPSS.

  • Week 1, 6 April 2014: Analysis of Variance
  • Week 2, 13 April 2014: Multiple Regression
  • Week 3, 27 April 2014: Reliability & Factor Analysis

Free classes are available to Birkbeck University Students at Birkbeck Main Building, Room MAL 457 at 14:00.

If you are attending this event, tweet me @TheTutorKing to let me know!  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Don't forget, The Tutor King is also available for private dissertation tuition.  If you are serious about getting that Distinction, you should definitely get in touch!

17 May 2014

Outline a Surrey based charity supporting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGB&T) community with the Support of Woking Borough Council and other LGB&T organisations and supporters will be hosting an event to raise awareness of homophobia and transphobia.

The event will be held in Woking Town Centre Peacocks Walk (next to town square) on the 17th May 2014, from 9am -6pm where stands from organisations that work with and support the LGB&T community will be talking to and raising awareness with the general public about homophobia and transphobia.

As well as the presence in the town centre there will be two public talks on the impact of homophobia on health along with the Lesbian and Gay Liaison Officers (LAGLO’s) talking about hate crime. These talks will be held at 13:30 and 15:30 respectively in the Woking based Lightbox Museum and exhibition venue.  We hope to announce other activities as we move closer to the event.

The Tutor King will be taking part of IDAHOT, supporting LGBTQ+ Psychology courses for Surrey Adult Learning and may be speaking at the exhibition.

2 June 2014, 19:00 at Esher Green Learning Centre

Taking place as part of Esher Green's annual Summer Lecture series, this talk will focus on Alan Downs' theory of The Velvet Rage, explaining how internalised homophobia learned in childhood affects relationships and coming out for gay men in adulthood. Downs believed that his theory was universal. However, cross-cultural psychology research across Canada, the UK and the USA has found that this is not always the case. Lecture attendees will learn about cross-cultural research methods, equality and diversity in psychology and sexual difference in human development. 

For more information, please go to Surrey Adult Learning's website here.  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Tickets are £12 and the lecture is for two hours.  To purchase tickets, please call 0300 200 1044 or email adultlearning@surreycc.gov.uk.

16 June 2014, 19:00 at Esher Green Learning Centre

Taking place as part of Esher Green's annual Summer Lecture series, this talk will focus on the debate in gender studies between essentialism and social constructionism; that is, whether differences in gender is determined by human biology or social influences. Some psychologists are concerned that essentialism leads to what is known as neurosexism, or the biological justification for oppressing women in society. Working from ongoing research, this cross-cultural psychology project will explore gender differences across the UK, Armenia and the relationship between gender, biology, culture, and career choice. Lecture attendees will learn about cross-cultural research methods, equality and diversity in psychology, and sex difference in human development. 

For more information, please go to Surrey Adult Learning's website here.  Or even better, check out the Facebook event page here.

Tickets are £12 and the lecture is for two hours.  To purchase tickets, please call 0300 200 1044 or email adultlearning@surreycc.gov.uk.

29 September 2013

The Six Key Approaches to Psychology (AQA AS Psychology "B", Unit 1: Chapter 1)

Before you can talk about remembering, conforming, eating, sleeping, depressing or addicting, it’s important to understand the basics.  As a student, how can you possibly begin to discuss the finer details of behaviour without understanding the key approaches to psychology?  In much the same way, how can an architect begin to explain the importance of the dining room chandelier, if she hasn’t even built a sturdy foundation to build the rooms upon?

This is the strength I believe of studying the “B” section of the psychology A-level.  For those who don’t know, AQA Psychology “B” was written for students who have already completed a GCSE in psychology.  I can’t say I ever met a student who has done this GCSE (I’m sure they exist), but this A-level takes a more direct no-nonsense approach to teaching psychology I believe.  In contrast, the “A” section (which I teach far more often) tends to take a “Let’s start talking topics, and you’ll learn the approaches along the way”, which evidently works; I can’t refute that “A” is very popular.  However, I can’t help but feel the strength in “B” is that it explains the six key approaches to psychology incredibly well in the first 23 pages while the “A” students are still struggling with drowning in models of memory.

For students taking the “A” section, I highly recommend buying the “B” book, as this is a fantastic resource that is equally valid for discussing in your psychological essays.

So, moving onto the discussion at hand, there are six key approaches to psychology that you should know the basics of before anything else.  Those approaches are:

These are not the only approaches to psychology – far from it.  There are many many approaches (some of which have been discussed in the blog already).  But these six do tend to be the overarching umbrellas onto which other more specific approaches to psychology base themselves upon.  For example, my preferred field, Cross-Cultural Psychology, tends to be seen as a Social approach.  Members within a culture interact with other humans, learning cultural norms of behaviour that others individuals model behaviour for them to copy - which then the individual goes on to influence others by modelling the behaviour further.

Over the next six weeks, I will be discussing each approach in greater detail, as well as identifying the key names and years that you should burn into your skull forever because The Tutor King promises, that if you know these six approaches like the back of your hand—then no exam question is too hard to answer.

25 September 2013

Congratulation and Information for New Clients

First, I would like to take this time to congratulate my A-level students from the 2012-2013 academic year. I am very proud to be a part of their hard work. This year, I met my students when they had C’s, D’s, E’s and even a few F’s and U’s. When A-level results came in, almost all of my students received B grades. One very special student even received an A, improving from a C from the previous exam! I just want to say congratulations to you all. Your hard work and study hours carried you so far and I hope you are all enjoying your places at university. I'm very proud of this outcome and I hope this trend continues for those who The Tutor King works with in the future.

Second, I am doing a second master’s degree at Birkbeck University in Gender, Sexuality and Culture. As many of my clients know, I research in LGBTQ psychology as well and I hope with this certificate I will be able to go further in my ability to design good cross-cultural studies and specialise in two very under-developed areas of psychology. 

 Third, I need to update the site for future clients and the answer is, I have limited availability. This year is incredibly important for The Tutor King. First, I am working toward my DTLLS certificate (Diploma to Teach in Lifelong Learning). Once I earn this vocational certificate, I will hold Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and thusly a much improved tutor for my students. 

 In order to achieve my QTS, I must teach 100 classroom hours. Unfortunately this means my private tutoring hours do not count. So for now, I am focussing on my Adult Learning with Surrey County Council to earn my hours and achieve my DTLLS. 

 So, for the 2013-2014 academic year, I am only available on Fridays and I am only seeing students in my home. At present, I have three or four slots available. If you would like to study with me, please contact me at enquiries@thetutorking.com.

7 April 2013

AQA “A” Unit 3; Chapter 19: Cultural Criticisms of the Psychometric Method of Defining Intelligence and Culture-Free Intelligence Tests (Part 1)

I was in the mood to write something really unique and original for the blog this week.  The ‘Theories of Attachment’ blog has done amazingly well hitting second place in the top ten and I really wanted to challenge that.  Moreover, I want to step a bit out of my comfort zone of social psychology, but still do enough cross-cultural psychology to keep things interesting and fun.  Quick inspection of the textbook reminded me of all the subjects that scare me to death and with a deep breath I screw my courage to the sticking place; I am tackling the subject of Intelligence Testing.

When discussing psychometric approaches to measuring intelligence, the underlying paradigm is that intelligence:

The key idea behind intelligence testing in this way is that psychologists should be able to measure differences in intelligence between individuals (Searle, 2003).  So, where do we start?

Wechsler (1939) further developed Binet’s ideas (1905) of the intelligence quotient (IQ), the score calculated by comparing mental and chronological age and multiplying by 100 (thus, making average IQ, 100).

What Wechsler found, was that if you took a large group pf people’s IQ scores, they usually fell in what is called a normal distribution.  Normal distribution is the pattern that is discovered when many people’s scores are put on a continuous variable and the frequency is plotted.  Wechsler’s key findings were that:

  • 68% of people scored between +1 and -1 standard deviation, scoring between 84 and 116 IQ points.
  • 95% of people scored between +2 and -2 standard deviations, scoring between 68 and 132 IQ points.
  • 5% of people scored between +3 and -3 standard deviations, scoring < 68 and > 132 IQ points.

The best way to understand these statistical results is to remember they are around the 100, meaning half of the percentage is above the 100 score and the other half below.  So, with the first standard deviation divide the percentage in half and you can deduce what the general population is.

68% ÷ 2 = 34% of people score between 100 and 116 IQ points and 34% of people score between 84 and 100 IQ points.

To do the second and third standard deviations, you have to subtract the first standard deviation from the second.

95% - 68% = 27% ÷ 2 = 13.5%

Therefore, 13.5% of people score between 116 and 132 IQ points and 13.5% of people score between 68 and 84.

Now, challenge yourself!  What percentage of people score greater than 132 IQ points?

Moving on, The Wechsler Scales (also called the WISC-R) are aimed at adults, children and pre-schoolers, with questions adjusted to suit the ages of all three groups.

The WISC-R measures:

However, there are key criticisms to measuring intelligence with the WISC-R.
  1. Most of the items rely on verbal comprehension (e.g., understanding the spoken word; Colman 1990).
  2. The WISC-R measures knowledge and memory rather than pure thinking abilities (e.g., problem solving and logic; Colman, 1990).
  3. The Flynn Effect (1994) observes that average scores on intelligence testing has grown by 15-25 points over the last generation.  Flynn argues then that intelligence cannot have increased over that period, and therefore the tools used to measure intelligence over the past 20 years have been statistically flawed and are not in fact measuring the intelligence it has claimed (Note: The WISC-IV released in 2003/4 was adjusted in order to address the Flynn Effect).
  4. The WISC-R does not go far enough to measure what intelligence means for people of different ages (Siegler & Richards, 1982).
  5. The WISC-R is culturally biased; it represents learning through formal education that only Western children have access to, therefore it may not accurately measure intelligence as it is understood by children without formal education, such as in Senegal (Van de Vijver & Leung, 1997).
Let’s focus specifically on the last criticism.  The United Kingdom, the United States of America and many other countries like these place a very high value on formal education for children.  This naturally lends itself to measuring intelligence by using the English language but (i) if you do not speak fluent English, does this make you inherently less intelligent or (ii) could the English language itself be encoded with values assumed to be associated with intelligence but are actually culturally relative values, like goal attainment (Sternberg et al., 1981).

Intelligence in the West generally means that a person has practical problem-solving skills, social competence, and in particular speed; that information can be called upon quickly (Sternberg, 1985).  Consider how important shows like Jeopardy are, where intelligent people compete to be the fastest intelligent person.  All three contestants are right, but viewers  attribute the quickest contestant as the most intelligent by enshrining him as 'the winner'.

But this is the American definition of intelligence.  Let’s consider other countries’ definitions of what it means to be intelligent.

These are characteristics that are specific to particular countries.  More generally, Andreas Demetriou and Timothy Papadopoulous (2004) suggests that notions of intelligence is always in reference to the individual’s social world.  For example, in Eastern cultures the definition intelligence also extends to an understanding of social, historical and spiritual aspects of everyday life.  Problem solving therefore is not something done by an individual, but in reference to other’s thoughts and feelings; that an intelligent person understands that to find a resolution to a problem means consulting the thoughts and advice of those he or she is interdependent with. 

This suggestion is supported by other cross-cultural findings such as:

If you want to learn more about intelligence across cultures (and race and gender) I highly recommend the following The Psychologist article.

The main idea behind the cultural criticism of Intelligence testing is that intelligence is a concept that is defined by the social world and related to the self.  Therefore, as long as there are different cultures, there will always be different ideas about what makes a person smart or not.  In reference to psychometric testing then, it may not be possible for any one test to measure intelligence across cultures.

Or is it?

Tune in next week to learn more about culture-free intelligence tests!

25 March 2013

Marriage Equality, Queer Theory and Psychology

Dear readers,

Tomorrow, on 26 March 2013, the United States Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments for the two cases surrounding same-sex marriage.

As many of you know from my personal story, this court case is of the upmost importance to me.  When I came out at 19, I was told by a primary caregiver that because of my sexual orientation, I would never find a partner who would love me without hurting me (perhaps violently), that I would die of AIDS and that in this series of fantastical events, I would die alone, ashamed and impoverished with my family turning its back on me, out of shame from my decision to be honest about my sexual orientation.

It was in direct opposition to these statements that I decided I had to make a difference in the world, showing everyone that being a gay man is not someone to be afraid of, ashamed of or something to hide; rather, this world recognises and rewards honesty and merit.  For these reasons I have chosen not to hide my sexual orientation from anyone.  Moreover, I call attention to my research and knowledge on the topic of Queer Theory in psychology.

As my AQA students already know (but my American readers may not), lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies are a core part of this college level, or high school equivalent curriculum.  This is not because of political correctness, regulated inclusion or tolerance.  This is because it is science and psychology as a scientific study has a duty to recognise the psychological differences and similarities for this group of people.

I'm truly lucky that today I have the support of the vast majority of my family in my decision to be an out gay man as well as accept and know my civil partner. 

It is in this sentiment that I appeal to my readers to consider psychological evidence and rational thinking if you are uncertain of your feelings on this issue.  With this suggestion, my blog this week will be my first essay I wrote on Queer Theory which was published in British Psychological Society's Student Member's Group Journal in 2010

Thank you for reading today.  I hope that the decision of the Supreme Court ultimately does not just change law, but also changes minds, attitudes and hearts so that no son or daughter will have to experience social exclusion again.

Contrast the Biological Differences between
Heterosexual Males and Homosexual Males

Tavis Ryan King


Discussion regarding the biological differences between heterosexual males and homosexual males is challenging.  Unlike studying sexual differences between men and women, the contrasting points tend to be difficult to detect.  However, research has discovered biological differences in the fields of biology, genetics, and psychology that could be indicative of differences.  What is more difficult than finding these trends though, is explaining their aetiology.  As a result, much of the discussion to explain biological differences goes back to the developmental causes of homosexual behaviour that are not yet solidly founded due to ethical (e.g. experimenting on a neonate) or technological limitations.  Irrespective of this, the aim of this paper is to first explain how the development of heterosexual men and homosexual men differ based on the effects of hormones during neonatal development, brain development, genetic make-up and birth order.  These four concepts are related and researchers from these approaches often cite one another in their studies.  Lastly, sexually dimorphic patterns typically seen differentiating men and women also appear as a contrast between heterosexual men and homosexual men.  These trends will be discussed as their aetiology is also unknown at this point in time.
To start, it is important to define sexual orientations of the two types of men being discussed.  Sexual orientation is a person's disposition as to what gender they are sexually attracted to (Baur & Crooks, 1999).  The typical sexual orientation shared by most people is heterosexuality, which describes the attraction to the opposite sex.  This sexual orientation explains the attraction between men and women.  Homosexuality though refers to attraction among the same sex.  It should be considered that sexual attraction in humans is on a scale, and that dominantly heterosexual men may sometimes become attracted to another male and that dominantly homosexual men may sometimes become attracted to females. Because this paper will be contrasting the biological differences between heterosexual and homosexual men, most-if not all-of the studies cited will have been carried out on predominantly or exclusively heterosexual men and predominantly or exclusively homosexual men.  This is typically measure with The Kinsey Scale developed by Alfred Kinsey (1948).  This scale is ranged from zero to six describing various degrees of attraction between the two sexes.  When cited studies did not use the Kinsey Scale to select participants, self-reporting was typically used.

Hormone Theory

The effects hormones have during the developing male as a foetus also seems to affect sexual behaviour.  In rat testing, if testosterone is inserted into the foetus at a critical stage of development, the rats brain will be sensitive to male hormones for the rest of its life and insensitive to female hormones.  Alternatively, if testosterone is blocked during this period, it will later become sensitive to female hormones (LeVine, 1966, as cited in Cirese & Wade, 1991).  Furthermore, when male rats are castrated at birth and injected with female hormones, they exhibit female sexual behaviour (Young, Goy & Phoenix, 1965; Levine, 1966, as cited in Cirese & Wade, 1991).  The male rats will arch their back and present themselves for mounting to other male rats.  This research does not directly relate to human behaviour, but given the similarity to rat and human foetuses, it is indicative of the possibility.
In humans, it is suspected that androgen levels are the affecting hormone toward a homosexual disposition among men.  Androgen is the male sex hormone which initiates male development physically.  In addition to this function, androgen also has effects male brain development.  It is assumed that normal-to-high levels of androgen released into the foetus during pregnancy produces heterosexual males.  Low androgen levels released into the foetus does not develop the brain in the same way as normal levels and so produced homosexual males.  Differences in the make-up of the brain between heterosexual men and homosexual men will be discussed later in the paper.  While the theory of androgen and its effects on behaviour are suspected, it can not be proven as testing this on humans at this fragile stage of life would harm the developing child and so therefore can not be conclusive.
Extreme stress levels seems to also have a bearing on male neonates.  If a mother carrying a neonate is under extreme duress, she will produce more stress-hormones such as adrenocorticotropic hormones (ACTH), corticosterone, cortisol, and epinephrine (Stechler & Halton, 1982; Ward, 1984, as cited in Ellis & Ames, 1987).  All of these hormones retards the effects of testosterone on the infant's development.  This effect was tested on pregnant rats in their third trimester.  The pregnant rats were placed in an intensely lit cage while she was uncomfortably contained inside a narrow plastic tube.  After she gave birth, the male offspring exhibited same-sex behaviour (Ward, 1974, 1977, as cited in  Ellis & Ames, 1987).  This study has been replicated several times since then (Dahlof, Hard, and Larzzon, 1977; Whitney and Herrenkohl, 1977; Gotz and Dorner, 1980; Rhees and Fleming, 1981, as cited in Ellis & Ames, 1987).  Anecdotally, this effect seemed to match historical records from the Second World War (Dorner, Geier,  Ahrens, Krell, Munx, Gsieler, Kittner, & Muller, 1980, as cited in Ellis & Ames, 1987).  Germany recorded that there were an unusually high number of homosexual men from 1934 through to 1953 who were born from pregnancies carried through the war.  The researchers explained that this was an unusually distressing time in German history and perhaps the effect of stress-hormones took hold of a generation of men.  Of course it is difficult to prove this relationship because it is too far in the past, however further studies have investigated stress-levels as cause for sexual diversion.  A sample of mothers who knew they had homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual sons were asked if they remembered being particularly stressed during their pregnancy.  Answers ranged from divorce, death of a family member, and traumatic financial woes.  The study found that two thirds of the mothers of homosexual offspring remembers specifically being extremely stressed at the point of pregnancy.  This is in comparison to only one third of the mothers of bisexual children, and less than ten percent of the heterosexual children (Dorner, Schenk, Schmiedel and Ahrens,1983, as cited in Ellis & Ames, 1987).  This observed relationship however is difficult to measure as an effect, and the researchers also observed that there would be wide variation between mothers as to how much stress they could deal with before they were overwhelmed and their offspring affected (Dorner, et al., 1983, as cited in Ellis & Ames, 1987).
Lastly in regards to hormones, research has determined that several female contraceptives based on anti-androgen chemical effects.  Medroxypogesterone acetate (a.k.a. Depo-Pravera), flutamide, cimetidine and cyproterone acetate are all capable of blocking testosterone's effects or alternatively block the neuro-organisational function of sex hormones (Anand & van Thiel, 1982; Clemens, Gladue, & Coniglio, 1978; Neumann & Steinbeck, 1973, as cited in Ames & Ellis, 1987).  These drugs change how androgens synthesize and therefore assist in forming androgen receptors in the male foetus.
Simon LeVay (1991, as cited in Baur & Crooks, 1999) suspected that homosexual attraction could be biological in nature and did a comparative study on the brains of forty-one cadavers.  He did post-mortem examinations on nineteen known homosexual men who had died from AIDS, sixteen presumed heterosexual men, two of whom died of AIDS complications, and six presumed heterosexual women.  LeVay found that the anterior hypothalamus, which is the area of the brain that influences sexual behaviour, of the homosexual men were half the size of the heterosexual men.  By comparison, the anterior hypothalamus of the homosexual men was similar in size to the female counterpart.  The results suggest that the size of the anterior hypothalamus is a dimorphic characteristic that separates men and women, and that homosexual men biologically share this characteristic with women. However, LeVay himself said that this was a suggestion that he intended to open to further research and accepted that this study could be criticized by the facts that the homosexual men died of various AIDS complications that could have affected this outcome.  This study was replicated with sheep in 2002 at Oregon State University (Gay for Hay?).  The research team dissected ten ewes, nine rams that only mated with other rams, and eight rams that mated only with females.  They found again that the anterior hypothalamus of the homosexual rams were equal in size to the ewes, and that the anterior hypothalamus of the heterosexual rams were double in size.  While across species, this study supports LeVay's findings and possibly negates the effect AIDS had on the findings.

Genetic Theory

Genetics and heritability have long been suspected as contributing to the differences between heterosexual and homosexual men.  Irving Kallman's (1952) studied eighty-five sets of male identical twins where one twin was homosexual.  Out of those eighty-five, Kallman found that forty pairs which he described as having 'perfect concordance' meaning that when one twin was homosexual, so was the other.  He compared this finding with forty-five sets of fraternal twins which he reported as an insignificant level of concordance.  Kallman's study does seem to be flawed.  It should have been expected that among the fraternal-twin study, while perhaps not as strong as the concordance among identical twins, there would be more an an insignificant level because the fraternal twins still shared half of there genes (Cirese & Wade, 1991).  Bailey and Pillard (1991, as cited in Baur & Crooks, 1999) replicated Kallman's study improving the sample by including a test group of adopted brothers.  They found similar results among identical twins as Kallman found, with fifty-two percent concordance.  The previously criticize fraternal-twin result of Kallman's was reshaped when twenty-two percent concurrence was found in the 1991 study, and among the adopted brothers, there was eleven percent concurrence.  Bailey and Pillard noted that in fact their concurrence rates could be higher as all of their twins were raised in the same home, and so environmental factors would have similarly affected the set of brothers.  However, the replication of the strong concurrence among identical twins suggest a genetic component.  It should be noted though that twin studies can be criticized in how samples for gay identical twins are recruited.  The volunteers for these studies are almost exclusively recruited through advertisements in gay-interest magazines and word of mouth throughout gay communities.  Therefore, homosexual twin study samples are likely to be affected by volunteer bias as gay identical and fraternal twins are likely to volunteer.  The concurrence could be overstated based on the eagerness of volunteers.
However, support for a genetic link is not limited to concurrent homosexual behaviour in twin studies alone.  Dean H. Hamer (1993, 1999) discovered similar genes that were shared between homosexual men and other homosexual men they were related to maternally.  His study looked at relatives not only among brothers, but inclusive of uncles as well.  Out of 182 families that had two or more gay brothers, he found that 13.4% of maternal uncles were gay in contrast to 6.9% of paternal uncles.  He hypothesized that a gene found the the X-chromosome, Xq28, was shared between the family members.  This would imply that homosexual behaviour is inherited from the mother.

Birth Order Theory

Perhaps the strongest evidence that concerns the sexual orientation of the child is the effect or birth order. Anthony Bogaert (2002) points that national health statistics collected in the United States and The United Kingdom point to the fact that gay men are more likely than heterosexual men to be born middle or last (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, & Michaels, 1994, as cited by Bogaert, 2002).  Biologically, Bogaert theorizes that each male pregnancy that comes to term, essentially 'inoculates' the mother's immune system.  When a mother carries a girl, that girl foetus is not attacked by the mother's immune system because her antibodies interpret the foreign object (the baby) as similar in genetic code to the mother.  However, in boys, the immune system sees the male foetus as a foreign object that should be attacked.  The immune system is easy 'defeated' so to speak when the first male child is brought to term.  However, by way of inoculation, when the second male foetus is introduced into the mother, the mother's immune system recognises the 'foreign object' from the first pregnancy and is better prepared to attack it.  The mother's body prevents this by releasing antibodies, known as HY antigens, into the womb which deters the immune system.  For each male foetus she carries, the immune system gets stronger, and she releases more deterring antibodies.  Bogaert theorizes that either these antibodies are having an effect on the androgen levels in the womb on the male foetuses or that the HY antigens are themselves affecting brain masculinisation.  Based on LeVay's theory that decreased androgen levels in utero affect the anterior hypothalamus, this would explain why men with two or more older brothers have an increased chance of being homosexual.  In fact, for each additional older brother a man has, increases his chances of being homosexual by 33% (Blanchard, 1997).

The Differences of Sexually Dimorphic Traits

Lastly, sexually dimorphic traits that normally differentiate between men and women have been observed occurring in homosexual men, setting them apart from their heterosexual counterparts.  Sexual dimorphic traits are the biological traits that that differentiate males from females across species.  An example of a dimorphic trait in animals would be antlers on deer.  Only a male deer can grow antlers and females can not.  Two human examples would be how males have a larger heart than females, and that females have a greater than ninety degree angle in the infrapubic angle of their pelvic bone.  Dimorphic traits that normal contrast men and women do occur to contrast heterosexual men and homosexual men.  As previously mentioned, the size of the anterior hypothalamus could be interpreted as a dimorphic trait.  In addition to this, gay men also share the female pattern of decreased cerebral laterality (Reite, Sheeder, Richardson, & Teale, 1995, as cited in Bailey, Chivers, & Mustanski, 2002).  Also, EEG patterns of gay men resemble EEG patterns recorded from heterosexual women during spatial and verbal testing (Alexander & Sufka, 1993, as cited in Bailey et al., 2002). 


Biological differences between heterosexual men and homosexual men were largely speculated in the past when scientists were trying to determine a cause of homosexuality when it was considered a mental disorder (Kallman, 1952).  Since that time, advances in technology in the fields of microscopy, medicine and genetics, as well as social attitudes surrounding homosexuality as acceptable behaviour and not a disorder have allowed biological characteristics to come to light and be studied by the medical field and social scientists.  Biological differences such as hormone levels affecting the neonate, chromosome detection, and birth order seem to be likely factors in determining differences in homosexual and heterosexual men.  In addition, new research is finding sexually dimorphic traits normally contrasting heterosexual men and women shared between heterosexual and homosexual men, such as the size of the anterior hypothalamus, brain activities, and performance tasks.  Although the origins of this differences are not known and therefore can not imply any conclusions, these findings should inspire new research and studies in the future to detect the reasons these differences exist.

Works Cited

Bailey, J., Dunne, M., Martin, N. (2000, March).  Genetic and environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample.  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78 (3), 524-536.  Retrieved 4 November 2008.

Baur, K. & Crooks, R. (1999).  Our Sexuality (7th ed.).  Pacific Grove, California, USA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Blanchard, R.  (1997, December).  Birth order and sibling sex ration in homosexual versus heterosexual males and females.  Annual Review of Sex Research, 8, 27.  Retrieved 4 November 2008.

Bogaert, A. (2002, September). Recent Research on Sexual Orientation and Fraternal Birth Order. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 11(2), 101. Retrieved November 5, 2008.

Cirese, S., Wade, C. (1991).  Human Sexuality (2nd ed.).  New York City, New York, USA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers.

Ellis, L. & Ames, M.  (1987, March).  Neurohormonal functioning and sexual orientation:  A theory of homosexuality-heterosexuality.  Psychological Bulletin, 101(2), 233-258.  Retrieved 4 November 2008.

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