Genetic sexual attraction

Genetic sexual attraction (GSA) is sexual attraction between close relatives, such as brother and sister, who first meet as adults. The effect is also seen between cousins.

GSA may occur as a consequence of adoption, when the adopted children knowingly or unknowingly encounter biological relatives. Although this is a rare consequence of adoptive reunions, the large number of adoptive reunions in recent years means that a significant number of people are affected. It is generally highly distressing to both parties, as this sexual attraction is contrary to their socialized sexual and moral structures (the incest taboo).

When children are raised together in early childhood, this effect is reversed by a form of imprinting known as the Westermarck effect, which results in reduced sexual desire between the siblings; examples exist in Israeli kibbutzim and, formerly, in Chinese arranged marriages known as Shim-pua.

Contributing factors

Several factors may contribute to GSA. People commonly rank faces similar to their own as more attractive, trustworthy, etc. than average. Heredity produces substantial physical similarity between close relatives. However, Bereczkei (2004) attributes this in part to childhood imprinting on the opposite-sex parent. Shared interests and personality traits are commonly considered desirable in a partner. The heritability of these qualities is a matter of great debate; to whatever extent they are heritable, they will tend to cluster in close relatives. In cases of parent-child attraction, the parent may recognize traits of their sometime mate in the child. Such reunions typically produce complex emotions in all involved.

In popular culture

The numerous versions of this phenomenon testify to how it resonates.







In reality

See also


Further reading

External links

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