Researchers in China and at the University of Minnesota published a study on May 1st, where they found that humans produce chemical cues that communicate gender to members of the opposite sex. While knowledge of pheromones has been around for a long time, the new and intriguing finding shows that homosexual males responded to gender pheromones more like heterosexual females did.
In the new study, researchers asked males and females, both heterosexual and homosexual, to watch what are known as point-light walkers move in place on a screen. The point-light walkers consisted of 15 dots representing the head, pelvis, thorax, and 12 major joints in the human body. Participants in the study were tasked with deciding whether those digitally morphed gaits were more masculine or feminine. Individuals completed that task while being exposed to androstadienone (found in male semen and armpits), estratetraenol (identified in female urine), or a control solution.
Results revealed that heterosexual females were systematically biased toward perceiving walkers as more masculine when they smelled androstadienone during the exercise. As for heterosexual males, they were systematically biased toward perceiving walkers as more feminine when they smelled estratetraenol during the exercise. The groundbreaking piece of the study actually revolves around the findings from the lesbian, gay, and bisexual participants where researchers found that homosexual males responded to gender pheromones more like heterosexual females did. Bisexual or homosexual female responses to the same scents fell somewhere in between those of heterosexual males and females.
"When the visual gender cues were extremely ambiguous, smelling androstadienone versus estratetraenol produced about an eight percent change in gender perception," explained Wen Zhou of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"The results provide the first direct evidence that the two human steroids communicate opposite gender information that is differentially effective to the two sex groups based on their sexual orientation," the researchers wrote in Current Biology.
Is this the scientific evidence needed to prove that same-sex attraction is genetic? While no DNA evidence currently exists, this is definitely a giant scientific step in that right direction.
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