Is “sexual orientation” a reality?
What is interesting is how this research shows that people’s attitudes about their sexuality, whether they see themselves as homo, hetero, bisexual, or some combination thereof, significantly varies by age. Younger generations are more likely to identify as bisexual or not fully hetero/homosexual, whereas older generations stick to a binary, either homo or hetero. Could it be that social influences cause this confusion… er… I mean “sexual fluidity” for youth nowadays?
I think what this research definitively supports is: Personal testimony and self-reporting is useless for determining whether sexual orientation is inborn or immutable. How?
In this study, either the respondents accurately reported their inborn sexual orientation, in which case, sexual orientation cannot be inborn and immutable since there is such a wide divergence between the age groups, which we would not expect to see if sexual orientation were inborn/immutable AND the respondents accurately represented that orientation. Or the respondents did not accurately represent themselves (perhaps because older generations are socially conditioned to think of themselves in binary sexual terms when in fact they are not born that way, etc.), which tells us nothing about the inborn-ness and immutability of sexual orientation but it should make us disregard personal testimony on questions of sexual orientation.
The stronger conclusion is that the study demonstrates that sexual orientation, whether inborn or not, is mutable. Again, the divergence between age groups could mean either that orientation is not inborn or that it is inborn but people get conditioned such that they don’t see themselves as having the orientation they were born with. Both options lend themselves to the mutability thesis, i.e., that sexual orientation, if such a thing exists, is not fixed or set at birth.