Evolutionary explanations of gender

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  • Created by: KCharlish
  • Created on: 06-04-16 16:08

AO1 1 Division of labour

Adaptive in the EEA because it enhanced reproductive success and also helped avoid starvation, by maximising food production. 

  • Men were hunters - if women spent time hunting this would reduce reproductive successs. 
  • Men physically equipped to be hunters
  • Women contributed to the provision of food by growing veg, milling grain and producing clothing.
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AO2 1 Meat sharing hypothesis

  • Stanford - males use control of meat as a means of attrating female interest.
  • Hill and Kaplan- modern hunter-gatherer societies have found that men use meat as a means of gaining access to women. 
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AO2 2 Determinsm

  • Determenistic
    • explain behaviour as directed solely through the biological approach with genes and nature.
    • assumes men will always be the hunter and women always the provider.
    • does not factor the role of social and cultural factors.
    • assumption that genes alone guide behaviour is determenistic as nurture and environmental elements are not factored into behaviour yet known to play a role.
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AO1 2 Gender role behaviour

  • Men - mate as frequently as possible with females who are most fertile.
    • Look for indications of youth and healthiness i.e. physical attractiveness - indicates greater fertility. 
  • Females - sought status and resources e.g. wealth and posessions. - need to be cared for during childbearing and rearing.
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AO2 3 Buss et al

Buss et al;

  • 37 different cultures - provide high cross sultural population validity
  • Men placed higher importance on physical attraction while women sought status and resources.
  • Showed traits sought were universal rather than culturally specific showing a possible evolutionary link.
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AO2 4 Mate choice

Waynforth and Dunbar;

  • used personal ads
  • more men sought a physically attractive partner than women did (44% vs 22%)
  • more women sought resources than men did (50% vs 34%)
    • Strength - represented an individuals ideal bid in the process of selection.
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AO1 3 E-S theory


  • assumes women are better at empathising and understanding what people feel - make better mothers by being empathisers
  • men are more adapt at systematising and building and understanding things - make better hunters.
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AO2 5 Quotient questionnaire


  • created the systematising quotient questionnaire which measured whether a person was pre-disposed to be systematic in their thinking or empathetic. 
    • Men = majority were geared to think more systematically
    • Females = majority were empathisers.
  • Supports E-S theory men and women’s gender roles may have formed due to evolutionary pressures shaping different patterns of thinking supporting evolutionary gender roles.
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IDA Speculative Theories

Evolutionary explanations are speculative - do not have a firm factual basis.

Gender related division of labour may be a plausible explanation for the disappearence of Neandathals however - no direct evidence. 

Other theories are equally plausible - climate change in Europe around 30,000 BC

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