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Cut up the following and get students to arrange them in a
logical order.
This approach argues that gender differences
occur because of selective pressures in the
past that shaped different behaviours in men
and women. These differences continue to
exist in today’s world due to genome lag,
although the modern environment is very
different from the EEA.
Parental investment for males is limited
because men produce millions of sperm with
little effort and can fertilise many women. A
man can father many more children than a
woman can mother. Reproductive success for
a man means having sex with as many fertile
females as possible.
The important time period is believed to be
the environment of evolutionary adaptation
(EEA), between about 40 thousand and 10
thousand years ago, when our ancestors were
Behaviours and traits that lead to
reproductive success will be selected. For men
these are aggression, dominance and
competitiveness as this enables men to fight
for a female. Sexual promiscuity will also be
advantage for increasing chances of
Gender differences in behaviour were
produced by two complementary processes –
natural selection and sexual selection. Natural
selection is the selection of behaviours or
bodily features that allow an animal to
compete successfully for mates and to
reproduce. These processes ensured that
behaviours that helped survival and
reproduction for our ancestors were kept in
the gene pool.
Women invest far more in parenthood as they
only produce one egg a month and each
offspring involves nine months of pregnancy,
then childbirth and months of nurturing,
possibly breast feeding. A woman can only
produce a few children in a life time.
Reproductive success for the woman is
making sure that she ensures the survival of
the few precious offspring that are produced.
Trivers (1972) suggested that gender
differences came from differences in parental
investment. This is investment by the parent
that increases the offspring’s chance of
survival at the cost of the parent’s ability to
invest in other offspring. The qualities and
behaviours that led to reproductive success
were different for males and females.
Behaviours that will be selected for
reproductive success for a woman are
helpfulness, sensitivity to others’ needs,
gentleness, warmth and compassion. Females
who are choosy about mate selection and
unwilling to engage in casual sex will produce
more surviving offspring. Women are
therefore programmed to be ‘feminine’.
Cut up the following and get students to arrange them in a
logical order.
On average, human males are about 1.15
times larger than females. This suggests
that size and weight were characteristics
that enabled men to compete successfully
for access to females in the EEA. Size
differences between males and females
are shown in many other species.
Evolutionary accounts cannot be tested
using scientific methods as it is not
possible to go back to the EEA to see how
people behaved.
Males show greater amounts of
aggressive behaviour across almost all
cultures and are more likely than women
to be convicted of violent crimes. This
suggests that male aggression may have a
genetic basis. Aggression has clear links to
testosterone, a male hormone. When
women undergo sex changes to become
male they receive testosterone, a male
hormone. Following hormone treatment,
they report an increase in aggressive
feelings (Van Goozen et al, 1994)
Female choosiness can be explained by
cultural pressures. In most parts of the
world, female chastity is coerced using
many different strategies. It may not ba
an adaptation at all.
Clark and Hatfield’s 1989 study shows
how men and women have different
attitudes to casual sex. Seventy five per
cent of male students agreed to have sex
with an attractive female stranger on an
American campus. No females agreed to
have sex when propositioned by an
attractive male.
Evolutionary psychology assumes that
male/female differences were designed to
solve the problem of reproductive
success. However, it is not always clear
that traits are adaptations that led to
success. For example, promiscuity may
not lead to increased reproductive success
for males, as offspring were less likely to
surviving the EEA when males did not stick
around (Sternglanz and Nash, 1988)
Cut up the following and get students to arrange them in a
logical order.
The evolutionary account of gender
differences explains unacceptable
behaviours like rape as ‘natural’. Thornhill
and Palmer’s book The Natural History of
Rape(2000) claims that rape is an evolved
tactic that enables males who cannot
reproduce with consent to be successful
by resorting to sexual violence. This
ignores the fact that many rape victims
are of non-reproductive age (e.g. young
children or older women), disproving the
claim that it aids reproductive success.
According to Hagen (2002) evolutionary
psychology is becoming out of date and
ignoring advancements in archaeology
and anthropology. Although there are
some indisputable features of the EEA
(women got pregnant and men did not),
evolutionary psychologists need to update
their understanding based on recent