Human sexual orientation has a heritable component

Richard C. Pillard*, J. Michael Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We present an overview of behavioral genetics research on homosexual and heterosexual orientation. Family, twin, and adoptee studies indicate that homosexuality and thus heterosexuality run in families. Sibling, twin, and adoptee concordance rates are compatible with the hypothesis that genes account for at least half of the variance in sexual orientation. We note observations of homosexual behavior in animal species, but the analogy to human sexual orientation is unclear. We discuss the reproductive disadvantage of a homosexual orientation and present possible mechanisms that could maintain a balanced polymorphism in human populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347-365
Number of pages19
JournalHuman Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 1998


  • Gays
  • Gender atypicality
  • Homosexuality
  • Lesbians
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Human sexual orientation has a heritable component'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this