With assays of hormone-sensitive behaviors, it is possible to demonstrate both direct and indirect actions of genes on mammalian social behaviors. Direct effects of estrogen receptor gene expression and progesterone receptor gene expression figure prominently in well analyzed neuroendocrine mechanisms for sex behavior, operating through a neural circuit that has been delineated. Indirect effects, notably the consequences of sexual differentiation, display complex dependencies. In a human condition, Kallmann syndrome, the data show a clear, indirect genetic influence on an important human social behavior, in which damage at chromosome Xp-22.3 works through at least six discrete steps to affect libido. Altogether, simplistic extrapolations from lower animals, especially during brief summaries for nonscientists, do not appear justified as we discover and conceptualize genetic influences on mammalian brain and behavior.