Sexual Orientation

S. T. Russell, E. M. Thompson, R. D. Harris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Sexual orientation is defined as one's sexual attractions and arousals toward one or both sexes. Research on adolescent sexual orientation has been burgeoning in the last decade - the most important finding of which is that sexual orientation should be distinguished from sexual behavior and sexual identity because they are not always congruent; however, they are all important parts of one's overall sexual development. This article briefly reviews historic thinking about sexual orientation, perspectives on origins, and the development of sexual orientation during adolescence, as well as the meaning and implications of sexual orientation for adolescents. We include attention to research linking sexual orientation to mental and emotional health as well as behavioral risk. Particular attention is paid to tensions between changing social conditions and sexual orientation development during adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Adolescence
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780123739513
StatePublished - 2011


  • Bisexual
  • Gay
  • Heterosexual
  • Identity development
  • LGB
  • Lesbian
  • Sexual identity
  • Sexual minority
  • Sexual orientation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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