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Parental influences on sexual preferences: The case of attraction to smoking
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology. Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for the Study of Cultural Evolution.
2011 (English)In: Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, ISSN 0737-4828, Vol. 9, no 1, 21-41 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We investigated whether a sexual preference for smoking can be related to past experiences of parental smoking during childhood, as predicted by the theory of sexual imprinting, but also by sexual conditioning theory. In a sample of over 4000 respondents to five Internet surveys on sexual preferences, we found that parental smoking correlates with increased attraction to smoking in self-reported hetero- and homosexual males. Maternal smoking was associated with an increase in attraction to smoking both in hetero- and homosexual males, while paternal smoking was associated with an increase in attraction to smoking only in males who prefer male partners. We could not explain these findings by considering other factors than parental smoking habits, such as possibly biased reporting, indicators of a sexually liberal lifestyle or phenotype matching. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that sexual preferences are acquired early in life by exposure to stimuli provided by individuals in the child’s environment, such as caregivers. The sex specificity of the parental effect is consistent with sexual imprinting theory but not with conditioning theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Budapest, Ungern: Akadémiai Kiadó , 2011. Vol. 9, no 1, 21-41 p.
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55641DOI: 10.1556/JEP.9.2011.12.1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-55641DiVA: diva2:415133
Available from: 2011-05-05 Created: 2011-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. On Sexual Imprinting in Humans
Open this publication in new window or tab >>On Sexual Imprinting in Humans
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis I investigate whether human sexual preferences develop through sexual imprinting. Sexual imprinting is the acquisition of sexual preferences through non-rewarded experiences with parents and siblings during an early sensitive period and it is known to exist in many other animals. Learning is often sex specific so that males, for instance, learn to prefer as sexual partners individuals that look like their mother, and avoid individuals that look like their father. First, sexual imprinting in animals and humans is reviewed and compared to prevailing evolutionary views presupposing genetically determined sexual preferences. Further, by means of web surveys, I have explored the relationship between childhood exposure to parents with certain natural and cultural traits and sexual attraction to these traits in a partner. Cultural traits were included because it is unlikely that preferences for them are genetically determined adaptations. Parental effects varied between traits. For instance, in heterosexual males, a positive effect of mother was found on attraction to smoking, but not glasses, while a negative paternal effect was found on attraction to glasses, but not smoking. However, when maternal and paternal effects were investigated for a large number of artificial and natural traits, including smoking and glasses, an overall positive effect of opposite sex parent emerged in both heterosexual males and females. Additionally, in the last study we explored a sexual preference for pregnant and lactating women. Results suggest that exposure to a pregnant and lactating mother had an effect if it occurred when the respondent was between 1,5 and 5 years old. In conclusion, these results suggest that human sexual preferences are the result of sex specific learning during a sensitive period. Sexual imprinting should therefore be recognised as a plausible explanation to human sexual preferences that deserves further scientific investigation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Zoology, Stockholm University, 2011. 30 p.
Keyword
Sexual Imprinting, Paraphilia, Fetishism, Sexual Preferences, Partner Preferences, Sexual Development
National Category
Ecology Natural Sciences
Research subject
Ethology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57270 (URN)978-91-7447-308-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-06-10, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. Available from: 2011-05-12 Created: 2011-05-05 Last updated: 2011-05-09Bibliographically approved

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Aronsson, HannaLind, JohanGhirlanda, StefanoEnquist, Magnus
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