Broad Autism Phenotypic Traits and the Relationship to Sexual Orientation and Sexual Behavior

J Autism Dev Disord. 2018 Dec;48(12):3974-3983. doi: 10.1007/s10803-018-3556-3.


Individuals with higher levels of the broad autism phenotype (BAP) have some symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Like individuals with ASD, people with higher-BAP may have fewer sexual experiences and may experience more same-sex attraction. This study measured BAP traits, sexual experiences, and sexual orientation in typically developing (TD) individuals to see if patterns of sexual behavior and sexual orientation in higher-BAP resemble those in ASD. Although BAP characteristics did not predict sexual experiences, one BAP measure significantly predicted sexual orientation, β = 0.22, t = 2.72, p = .007, controlling for demographic variables (R2 change = .04, F = 7.41, p = .007), showing individuals with higher-BAP also reported increased same-sex attraction. This finding supports the hypothesis that individuals with higher-BAP resemble ASD individuals in being more likely than TD individuals to experience same-sex attraction.

Keywords: Broad autism phenotype; Same-sex attraction; Sexual behavior; Sexual orientation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Phenotype*
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Young Adult