Sensation seeking in opposite-sex twins: An effect of prenatal hormones?

Susan M. Resnick, Irving I. Gottesman, Matthew McGue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Intrauterine hormones and position with respect to male and female littermates influence sexually dimorphic adult behavior in litter-bearing animals. Opposite-sex dizygotic twins offer the opportunity to examine analogous effects on sex-related human behaviors. To illustrate this approach, Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS) scores from 422 British twin pairs, including 51 opposite-sex pairs (Zuckerman, M., et al., J. Consult. Clin. Psychol. 46:139-149, 1978), were reanalyzed. Zuckerman et al. (1978) have shown that some aspects of sensation seeking are consistently increased in males relative to females. In comparing age-adjusted data for opposite and same-sex twins, our reanalysis demonstrated the predicted increase in sensation seeking in female members of opposite-sex pairs. Results were significant for measures of disinhibition, experience seeking, and overall sensation seeking. In contrast, male opposite-sex twins were not significantly different from male same-sex twins. Although psychosocial explanations of the increased sensation seeking in opposite-sex female twins cannot be excluded, these findings are consistent with hypothesized in utero hormonal influences on later behavioral development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993


  • Opposite-sex twins
  • sensation seeking
  • sex differences
  • sex hormones


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