Evolutionary Explanations of Gender

  • Created by: AnnieB
  • Created on: 08-06-15 21:56


Men need to be more competitive to gain access to best females.

Wilson & Daly (1985) - reviewed murders in Detroit in 1972.

Most involved men who knew each other, a significant number involved sexual jealousy, the majority were spontaneous rather than pre-meditated and were to do with preventing loss of status.

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Ginsberg & Miller (1982)

Conducted naturalistic observation of 480 children aged between 3 and 11 at San Antonio Zoo.

Identified four ‘risky’ scenarios: elephant ride,feeding a donkey, a petting zoo and a steep embankment near a river.

Researchers conducted frequency counts for 30 minutes at each activity.

Significantly more boys than girls engaged in risky behaviour.

74% of children playing there were boys.

Successful risk-taking evokes admiration from females.

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Women tend to be passive, nurturing carers.

Women devote so much time to pregnancy and feeding; this has led to nurturing, caring role.

In the environment of evolutionary adaptation (EEA) women would have stayed together in groups caring for children while men left the group to hunt.

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Hill & Hurtado (1989)

Studied gender roles in modern day hunter gatherers (Ache of Paraguay)

Men devote >7 hrs per day to hunting/processing food and maintaining weapons/tools.

Men provide 87% of total diet and 100% of protein/fat requirement for group.

Women spend 2 hrs per day gathering food, 2 hours moving camp, 8 hrs light work, childcare.

Hunter gatherers spend time on activities that lower mortality rate of their children and improve reproductive chances.

Differences in gender role enhance survival of the group.

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Are women less aggressive than men?

Emphasis for women is avoiding physical harm.

Steffen & Eagly (1986) - Females able to empathise with their victim

Breines & Gordon (1983) - However research into family violence found mothers and fathers are equal in tendency to abuse children.

As women spend more time looking after children therefore exposure to provocation from children is greater.

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Gender differences in cognitive ability

Men - visuospatial skills, co-ordination for aiming and throwing.

Skilled hunters would have been more attractive to females.

Women - verbal and communication skills, co-operative problem solving.

Charlesworth & Dzur (1987) – 4 and 5 year old children solving practical problems in same sex groups. Girls used more verbal behaviour than boys, who were more physical and competitive.

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