It has been known for decades that sexual orientation is partly heritable in men, based on studies of identical and fraternal twins. In the s, a specific region of the X chromosome was linked to male homosexuality and more recent two specific genes have been found to be more common in gay men. However, the genetic factors that have been identified so far only play a small part in determining sexuality — not all men who have these genes are gay.
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Research on the genetic basis of female sexuality lags behind, which some have attributed to it being more difficult to study. Others might conclude that there has simply been less effort to understand this topic. There are other biological factors at play as well.
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One of the most robust findings in sexual-orientation research is the fraternal-birth-order effect: gay men tend to have a greater number of older brothers compared with straight men. This is a biological influence rather than a social one and is a big effect, increasing the odds of a man being gay by roughly a third. In women, there is evidence that pre-natal hormone exposure can make a difference to sexual orientation. Pheromones are chemical signals that are used to communicate and alter the behaviour of others.
The first pheromone discovered, in the s, was a substance called bombykol that female silkworms emit to attract males.
Ever since then, the search has been on — not least by perfume manufacturers — to find a human equivalent. There have been some tentative claims. For instance, a known pig pheromone, androstenone, has been found in the human armpit. The strongest contender to date for a human pheromone is a chemical secreted from glands in the nipples of breastfeeding mothers.
Cheating is widely disapproved of, but is not that uncommon. Recently scientists have shown that some people may be genetically predisposed to being unfaithful. One study of nearly 7, Finnish twins and their siblings found a significant link between the vasopressin gene and infidelity in women.
- The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics (Oxford Handbooks).
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Another study , by scientists at the Kinsey Institute, in Indiana, showed that certain variants of the gene for the dopamine receptor were more likely to be unfaithful and also more likely to be repeatedly unfaithful. Splendors and Miseries of the Brain : Semir Zeki.
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