Sexual orientation is an enduring pattern of romantic or sexual attraction (or a combination of these) to persons of the "opposite" sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or to both sexes or more than one gender. These attractions are generally subsumed under heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality, while asexuality (the lack of sexual attraction to others) is sometimes identified as the fourth category. These categories are aspects of the more nuanced nature of sexual identity. For example, people may use other labels, such as pansexual or polysexual, or none at all. According to the American Psychological Association, sexual orientation "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions".
The term sexual preference largely overlaps with sexual orientation, but is generally distinguished in psychological research. A person who identifies as bisexual, for example, may sexually prefer one sex over the other. Sexual preference may also suggest a degree of voluntary choice, whereas the scientific consensus is that sexual orientation is not a choice.
There is no consensus among scientists about why a person develops a particular sexual orientation. Many scientists think that nature and nurture – a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences – factor into the cause of sexual orientation. They favor biologically-based theories, which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors. There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation; when it comes to same-sex sexual behavior, shared or familial environment plays no role for men and a minor role for women. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the "opposite" sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex.
Sexual orientation is reported primarily within biology and psychology (including sexology), but it is also a subject area in anthropology, history (including social constructionism), and law, and there are other explanations that relate to sexual orientation and culture.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Sexual orientation, homosexuality and bisexuality. American Psychological Association. Archived from the original on August 8, 2013. Retrieved on August 10, 2013.
- ↑ Sexual Orientation. American Psychiatric Association. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved on January 1, 2013.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedPrause, Nicole (August 2004). Asexuality: Classification and Characterization (PDF) pp. 341–356. Retrieved on 31 August 2007.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedMelby, Todd (November 2005). pp. 1, 4–5.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedSex and Society pp. 82–83. Marshall Cavendish (2009). Retrieved on February 2, 2013.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedToward a conceptual understanding of asexuality pp. 241–250 (2006).
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedFirestein, Beth A. (2007). Becoming Visible: Counseling Bisexuals Across the Lifespan. Columbia University Press. Retrieved on October 3, 2012.
- ↑ Page 30 Case No. S147999 in the Supreme Court of the State of California, In re Marriage Cases Judicial Council Coordination Proceeding No. 4365(...) - APA California Amicus Brief — As Filed (PDF). Retrieved on March 13, 2013.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Template:Cite news
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specified pp. 46–58 (2006).
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedFriedman, Lawrence Meir (1990). The republic of choice: law, authority, and culture. Harvard University Press. Retrieved on 8 January 2012.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedHeuer, Gottfried (2011). Sexual revolutions: psychoanalysis, history and the father. Taylor & Francis. Retrieved on 8 January 2011.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedFrankowski BL (June 2004). Sexual orientation and adolescents pp. 1827–32.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 Submission to the Church of England’s Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality. The Royal College of Psychiatrists. Retrieved on 13 June 2013.
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specified pp. 22–35 (2010). (authors are of Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, of Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) (author contact is 2d author) (vol. 17 is Sandro Loche, Marco Cappa, Lucia Ghizzoni, Mohamad Maghnie, & Martin O. Savage, eds., Pediatric Neuroendocrinology).
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedFrankowski BL (June 2004). Sexual orientation and adolescents pp. 1827–32.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Template:Cite doi
- ↑ Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedControlling Desires: Sexual Orientation Conversion and the Limits of Knowledge and Law (1999). Retrieved on May 2015.