On Sexual Imprinting in Humans
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
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.
Sexual Imprinting, Paraphilia, Fetishism, Sexual Preferences, Partner Preferences, Sexual Development
Ecology Natural Sciences
Research subject Ethology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-57270ISBN: 978-91-7447-308-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-57270DiVA: diva2:415143
2011-06-10, De Geersalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 14, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Hogan, Jerry, Professor
Lind, Johan, docentEnquist, Magnus, Professor
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript. 2011-05-122011-05-052011-05-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers