evolutionary explanations into gender role essay plan


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Evolutionary Explanations into Gender Roles
· Explaining behaviour through processes of natural and sexual selection
· Much of human behaviour has been generated through adaption to environmental
problems to promote the survival of the species
· This approach therefore tells us that men and women have evolved into having
different roles through previously having to adapt to environmental pressures
· Research, can show knowledge of stereotyping and categorise by 2, defined gender
roles for males & females from early age (Thompson et al, 1975; Kuhn et al, 1978)
· Bem (1973) adults have clear expectations about gender roles and appropriate
· This approach claims that these have developed through evolution as they have
proven to be advantageous to each sex
· Buss (1995) men and women differ in psychological domains were they have faced
different adaptive problems over evolutionary history. Developed different
characteristics / mechanisms for unique problems - women producing oxytocin
during childbirth to stimulate uterus contraction
· As gestation and fertilisation occur internally in female - 100% sure child is hers
· Buss (1995) `paternal uncertainty' men cannot be absolutely sure a child carried by a
female is theirs - adaptive challenge which differs between sexes
· Males must find and secure mates, must ensure she's fertile (deters with age,
limiting opportunities to reproduce)
· Female challenges - identifying a male who will invest his resources in her children to
maximise their chances or survival. If they are successful at this they will have an
evolutionary advantage. Needs to be able to rely on male during gestation period,
when she cant necessarily look after herself and so is vulnerable
· Female must invest more time and energy into offspring than man, explains nurturing
carer gender role
· Outdated by modern standards but is a product of evolution where humans have
spent most of their time as a species as hunter gatherers.
· Generally accepted males are more aggressive than females, usually directed at
other men
· Wilson and Daly (1985) support conflicts resulting in murders, Detroit, 1972. Majority
- status and competition young, unemployed, unmarried men, with knowledge of
rival's background and so of their status. Reasons trivial, conflicts spontaneous,
willingness to participate often involved preventing loss of status. `Trivial
altercations' escalated into opportunities to show off and out do one another in
front of witnesses, gaining status. Similar to `affairs of honour' in other cultures.
Significant percentage showed sexual jealousy - contesting a female partner. Status
attractive to female, high status males often have access to lots of resources,
would increase women's fitness
· Meta-analysis, aggression more pronounced in lab settings when required or
requested opposed to field with increased free will - methodology and validity
· Risk-taking in males appears evident from early age - Ginsberg and Miller (1982)
significantly more boys than girls, 3-11, involved themselves in risk-taking behaviour

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Wilson and Daly (1985) equate it with male gambling - winning means gaining huge
amount in terms of resources and status
· Female gender role considered to be passive, nurturing, caring
· Female anatomy provides safe environment for foetus to grow and develop during
gestation period and sustenance for the helpless but rapidly growing offspring
· Women must invest a lot of time and energy into children, led to role as nurturer and
· Hunter gatherers in time of…read more

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Differences could be attributed to invention of contraceptive pill, when risk of
reproduction appears to be removed from sexual activity, female can have as many
sexual partners as male due to lack of risk of long term investment - suggests there
is a cognitive influence
· Western culture, growing acceptance of role of nurturing father, reflected in new
`paternity leave' legislation
· Environmental conditions have changed due to technology, no longer need for man
to be the hunter or to physically fight, changes to socialisation…read more


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