A1 Journal article – refereed
A Life History Approach to the Female Sexual Orientation Spectrum: Evolution, Development, Causal Mechanisms, and Health

List of Authors: Luoto S., Krams I., Rantala M.
Publisher: Springer New York LLC
Place: New York
Publication year: 2018
Journal: Archives of Sexual Behavior
Journal name in source: Archives of Sexual Behavior
ISSN: 0004-0002
eISSN: 1573-2800


Women's capacity for sexual fluidity is at least as interesting a phenomenon from the point of view of evolutionary biology and behavioral endocrinology as exclusively homosexual orientation. Evolutionary hypotheses for female nonheterosexuality have failed to fully account for the existence of these different categories of nonheterosexual women, while also overlooking broader data on the causal mechanisms, physiology, ontogeny, and phylogeny of female nonheterosexuality. We review the evolutionary-developmental origins of various phenotypes in the female sexual orientation spectrum using the synergistic approach of Tinbergen's four questions. We also present femme-specific and butch-specific hypotheses at proximate and ultimate levels of analysis. This review article indicates that various nonheterosexual female phenotypes emerge from and contribute to hormonally mediated fast life history strategies. Life history theory provides a biobehavioral explanatory framework for nonheterosexual women's masculinized body morphology, psychological dispositions, and their elevated likelihood of experiencing violence, substance use, obesity, teenage pregnancy, and lower general health. This pattern of life outcomes can create a feedback loop of environmental unpredictability and harshness which destabilizes intrauterine hormonal conditions in mothers, leading to a greater likelihood of fast life history strategies, global health problems, and nonheterosexual preferences in female offspring. We further explore the potential of female nonheterosexuality to function as an alloparental buffer that enables masculinizing alleles to execute their characteristic fast life history strategies as they appear in the female and the male phenotype. Synthesizing life history theory with the female sexual orientation spectrum enriches existing scientific knowledge on the evolutionary-developmental mechanisms of human sex differences.

Internal Authors/Editors

Last updated on 2019-02-07 at 17:47