Describe and Evaluate Evolutionary Explanations of Gender [8 + 16] A Grade Essay

 Describe and Evaluate Evolutionary Explanations of Gender [8 + 16] 

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Thomas Bray
Describe and evaluate evolutionary explanations of
gender. [8 + 16]
During the evolutionary adaptation time period, between 10-40 thousand years ago, our
ancestors were hunter-gatherers. This created a division between men and women. The men
would hunt for food and the women would be in charge of the domestic duties such as
cleaning and cooking. Doing the domestic chores would have kept women more protected,
as it is less strenuous and would have guarded the camp whilst the men were out hunting
therefore increasing the chances of reproductive success. This division of labour would have
made them less likely to sustain injuries and so the evolutionary approach would suggest
that the groups who divided the labour were been more likely to survive; this explains how
gender roles have evolved over time. This behaviour was passed on generation after
generation through either natural selection or indeed sexual selection.
Gender role behaviours related to adaptive reproductive strategies. Such as men trying to
have sex with as many females as possible. Women however were much more invested so
that their offspring. These traits, of investment level compared to masculinity and femininity,
were passed down as a desired behaviour. Trivers 1972 suggested that the differences
between the genders were due to the varying levels of parental investment. This investment
by the parent increased the offspring's chance of survival. The qualities and behaviours that
led to reproductive success were different in females and males
Baron-Cohen 2002 suggested, in their E-S theory, that male hunters gained an evolutionary
advantage systematising over women who were much more empathetic. With their theory
they suggested that during stress responses, men tend to be adapted for flight or fight.
Where as females normally tend and befriend. Shields 1975 suggested that men and women
evolved to have roles that complemented each other, in order for both genders to survive.
Another evolutionary explanation of gender roles is mate choice, which suggests that
gender role behaviours are related to reproductive strategies. It is thought that men will
look for women who are young whereas women are usually more interested in the
resources of a mate. This can be explained from an evolutionary perspective as mating with a
physically attractive woman will give better genes to pass onto their offspring, and women
seek men with resources such as wealth as it will increase their security and therefore their
chances of survival.
Evidence for this includes the meat-sharing hypothesis, Stanford 1999. This suggested that
meat was very important for survival so men would offer meat to women, in exchange for
sex, which explains why the best hunter's genes would be passed on the most. Ennis et al
2001 showed that men indeed do show a better `fight or flight' response, as during exams
men's cortisol levels are higher than women's during the same time period.

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Thomas Bray
Buss 1989 also provided evidence for the EEA, finding that men placed importance on
attractiveness where as women placed it on financial prospects. He analysed data for this
study is 37 countries. However methodological issues with the supporting study must also
be considered, for example the method used was self-report thus leaving the study
vulnerable to demand characteristics. This could mean the study lacks internal validity.…read more


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