Essay on evolutionary explanation to gender role

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Sadhia Malik Psychology Essay
Evolutionary explanations of gender role (8+16 Marks)
Gender refers to a person's sense of which they are their sense of maleness or
femaleness, whereas gender role refers to attitudes, interests and the behaviours that
genders adopt.This essay will look at the three key terms in the evolutionary
perspectives 1st division of labour, 2nd mate choice and the 3rd cognitive style.Individuals
are born female and male but over the years they become feminine or masculine this is
when the evolutionary psychologists argues that this gender role division appeared as an
adaption to the challenges faced by our ancestral humans in the EEA. Therefor the role
differences we observe are a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through
The evolutionary perspective states that there is division of labour, which explains that
men are hunters and women are the gatherers. The role division is thought to have
evolved because women spend most of their adulthood either pregnant, producing milk
or both. This explains why the humans survived and the Neanderthals didn't (They had no
division of gender role)
But this explanation ignores social explanations suggesting that behaviour is learnt
clearly because they are deterministic who try to prove only one theory and do not take
into account others. There is a key criticism for the theory is that it explains the
evolutionary explanations but does not have a have a firm factual base. The explanation
suggests that men naturally take the role of a hunter and fails to take into account that
genes only predispose use to behave in certain ways but does not actually dictate what
each individual chooses to do. There is supporting evidence by Waynforth and Dunbar
(1995) who explained that male and females advertise themselves to the opposite sex,
they used personal ads to see what both genders were looking for, and found that 44% of
males wanted physically attractive partners, 50% of the women offered attractiveness.
This again explains the behaviour through evolutionary but not through genes.
The second evolutionary perspective is mate choice. This explanation states that gender
role behaviour is related to reproductive strategies. It suggests that men look for more
psychically attractive women, as they are young and have child bearing hips. On the other
hand women are more interested in the resources a partner might be able to provide and
social status, both men and women have one aim to maximise the reproductive success.
There is supporting evidence by Ennis et al (2001) showed that both genders have
differences in stress responses they carried out a naturalistic experiment, and looked
for levels of cortisol a week before exams and immediately after the exams. Results

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Sadhia Malik Psychology Essay
showed that there was a significant increase in cortisol levels in men when they are
stresses but lower in women. The results are reliable as it was a recent experiment and it
was carried out in a natural environment. There is supporting evidence by Keicolt
Glaser et al (1984), who showed that women show more immunological changes in the
way they react to chronic stressors.…read more


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