Lifelong sexual orientations can be traced to childhood preferences for sex-typical or sex-atypical activities and peers, suggests Daryl J.
Bem, Cornell professor of psychology. And "gender-nonconforming" children, who prefer sex-atypical activities and peers, come to feel different from same-sex peers.
As children reach puberty, the feelings of being different get transformed into sexual or romantic attraction: The exotic becomes erotic, or EBE.
Bem first outlined the EBE theory -- complete with a six-step sequence that starts with "biological variables" such as genes and prenatal hormones -- in the peer-reviewed journal, Psychological ReviewVol.
The social Daryl bem theory of homosexuality believes that biological variables may play an indirect role but do not directly determine sexual orientation. Rather, biology can be partially responsible for what he calls childhood temperaments, and youngsters' temperaments predispose them to enjoy some activities more than others during the critical, life course-setting period.
Many pre-adolescent boys and some girls, Bem observes, enjoy what our society considers "male-typical" activities -- rough-and-tumble play and competitive sports -- and they tend to associate with peers who share their preferences.
Likewise, many girls and some boys are predisposed by temperament toward "female-typical" activities, such as socializing quietly or playing hopscotch, and they seek like-minded peers. The gender-nonconforming kids who prefer sex-atypical activities and opposite-sex playmates don't have an easy time of it, as every parent knows: Nonconforming boys who play with girls are taunted as "sissies" by typical boys, who consider girls "yucky. Eventually, Daryl bem theory of homosexuality develop an attraction for those they find exotic: Sex-typical children will become attracted to the opposite sex; sex-atypical children will become attracted to the same sex.
This occurs, Bem maintains, because every child -- whether conforming or nonconforming -- experiences "heightened physiological arousal in the presence of peers from whom he or she feels different. Nor does every "tomboy" grow to be a lesbian woman, Bem acknowledges. The Cornell psychologist points to a series of studies, including a meta-analysis of 48 studies totaling thousands of participants.