Social Dominance and Sexual Orientation


Dickins, Thomas E. and Sergeant, Mark J.T. 2008. Social Dominance and Sexual Orientation. Journal of Evolutionary Psychology. 6 (1), pp. 57-71.
AuthorsDickins, Thomas E. and Sergeant, Mark J.T.

Heterosexual males are reported to display higher levels of physical aggression and lower levels of empathy than homosexual males. A characteristic linked to both aggression and empathy is social dominance orientation (SDO). A significant sex difference has been reported for SDO, with heterosexual males scoring higher than heterosexual females. The precise relationship between dominance and aggression is currently contested. Given the association between SDO, aggression and empathy, and the differences between heterosexual and homosexual males, an analysis of how sexual orientation co-varies with SDO might help to clarify the association between aggression and dominance. SDO scores were derived from heterosexual males ( n = 60), heterosexual females ( n = 60) and homosexual males ( n = 60). Heterosexual males reported higher levels of SDO than heterosexual females and homosexual males, while heterosexual females scored higher than homosexual males. These differences were analogous for physical aggression. More work is required to thoroughly understand the aetiology of these effects as well as the strategic value of the behaviours, but for now we have reason to further investigate the organizational hormone hypothesis put forward in this paper.

Keywordssocial dominance orientation; direct aggression; indirect aggression; empathy; sexual orientation
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Psychology
Journal citation6 (1), pp. 57-71
Accepted author manuscript
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PrintMar 2008
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Deposited10 Feb 2010
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Dickins, T.E. & Sergeant, M.J.T. (2008) ‘Social Dominance and Sexual Orientation.’ Journal of Evolutionary Psychology, 6 (1) 57-71.

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