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The evolutionary
explanations of
gender roles
Gender Topic 2…read more

Slide 2

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The evolutionary perspective AO1:
The Division of Labour Cognitive Style
· The traditional view was that males were the Baron-Cohen (2002)
hunters and females were the gatherers and · Males are better at systematising whilst women are
domestic goddesses better at empathising
· This may have evolved because women spent · Explanation: males developed better hunting
much of their time pregnant or lactating ­ if strategies in order to attract females which makes
women hunted then the groups reproductive them systematise
success would decline · Females are better at empathising
· Women could instead contribute by growing · Explanation: they have to care for their children and
vegetables/creating clothes/ creating shelter. they have a tend and befriend attitude which leads
· This creates an adaptive advantage to them caring about interpersonal relationships as
Kuhn and Stiner(2006) its safer to group with others in times of stress
· This gender division of labour explains why
humans survived and Neanderthals didn't
· The Neanderthals diet consisted of meat and both Mate Choice
males and females hunted · Males look for a physically attractive female because
· This is known from skeletons of both genders with it indicates their fertile and they want to pass on their
hunting injuries genes.
· When hunting was unsuccessful they would starve · females look for a male with resources because the
· Therefore humans exist and Neanderthals don't division of labour means that the female and her
because humans had evolved an adaptive division offspring will be depending on the male
of labour. · A male with resources = her and offspring are cared
for…read more

Slide 3

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Cognitive Style AO2
Baron Cohen (2004)
· Found that men and women have different cognitive styles and
therefore think differently
· He tested this using a Systematising Quotient Questionnaire
· It illustrated that males tend to be systematisers and females
tended to be empathisers
· This supports the evolutionary explanation of gender roles as
women need to empathise when child rearing whilst hunters
need to systematise
· It also supports the evolutionary explanation of cognitive styles
because it provides evidence that males and females do truly
think differently…read more

Slide 4

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Evolutionary Theory and
Determinism AO2
· However, the evolutionary theory is criticised for being
· This is because it suggests:
· In gender roles males are inclined to be hunters due to their
· They prefer younger women as partners
· However, social and cultural factors may also have an affect
on gender role decisions…read more

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Research Methods AO2
· One strength of the research into the evolutionary explanation of
gender roles is that a large variety of methods were used:
· Historical records
· Experiments
· Observations
· Questionnaires
· Comparative studies
· Cross cultural studies
· However an issue with cross cultural studies, which are used to depict
whether an explanation applies across cultures, is that people may lie
in questionnaires or people in another culture may simply not
understand the questions. Therefore the research would be biased.…read more

Slide 6

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The Meat Sharing Hypothesis AO2
Stanford (1999) suggested that:
· When humans became meat eaters men became the
hunters and used this to attract women
Hill and Kaplan (1988)
· Studied modern hunter-gatherer societies and found that
men use meat to gain access to women…read more

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