Preferred partner characteristics in homosexual men in relation to speculated patterns of brain differentiation.

OBJECTIVES: The current study was designed to test a neurohormonally based theory of sexual orientation and preferred partner characteristics in homosexual men. The theory holds that the brains of homosexual men are masculinized and feminized directing attraction to targets younger and more masculine than self, and the brains of homosexual adolescents are incompletely masculinized and feminized directing attraction to targets older and more masculine than self.

METHODS: Ninety-six homosexual men completed questionnaires that asked them to rate morphological and behavioral characteristics associated with ethologically relevant indicators of masculinity. The participants made ratings for themselves as adolescents and adults, their current partners and idealized partners as adults, and their idealized partners as adolescents.

RESULTS: Results of within-subjects multivariate analyses of variance supported most of the hypotheses. Participants as adults rated their idealized partners as more masculine than themselves and their real partners on five measures: height, weight, muscle development, facial hair, and sexuality. As adolescents they indicated a preference for males older and more masculine than self. The participants in adulthood did not show the predicted preference for partners younger than themselves.

CONCLUSION: The increased ratings of sexuality for self from adolescence to adulthood support the contention that some additional masculinization of the brain may occur with aging. The increased ratings of body size for the idealized target from adolescence to adulthood keeps the target more masculine then self across developmental periods. This phenomenon is consistent with the speculated feminization of the brain at both periods and its effects on partner preferences.