Sex Difference in Evolutionary Psychology

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 11 October 2016

Sex Difference in Evolutionary Psychology

Disclosing human behaviour has initiated study and research from a capacious range of disciplines, effectuating varied perspectives on human behaviour. Essentialist or social constructionist perspective has been considered by psychologists to examine the origin of sex differences (Anselmi & Law, 1998). Essentialism articulates that sex differences commence from inducements that are intrinsic in human beings, and present itself as an alternative meta-theory to conventional sociology. The discrepancy in sex differences across social contexts is considered by social constructionist view-point, understood by the interpretation of the sexes amidst specific contexts. Highly contrasting theories emanate when apprehending factors responsible for human sex-linked behaviour, thus making it strenuous to critic the factors that essentially manipulate and manage behaviour (Jureidini & Poole 2000). Hence, the current essay provides a cogent explanatory framework for understanding the causation of sex differences, anchored primarily from evolutionary psychology, with criticisms reported against its concepts on sex differences.

Sexuality is sexual behaviour, epitomized as the inherent behavioural predispositions, augmenting the probability of passing genes into future progeny (Buss, 1989). Human mate selection has generated a substantial degree of research, instilling a pronounce degree of sexual differentiation between the characteristics that men and women desire in potential mates (Buss, 1989; Buss & Barnes, 1986). The division of labour (Durkheim, 1964) observed men inclined to be stereotyped and envisaged as bread winners, with the role of child carers and nurturers stereotyped as women, patriarchy acknowledged as the custom with aggressive nature expected from men, and nurturing and passive nature expected from women (Jureidini & Poole, 2001).

Males endeavoured to reproduce and desired the need to be paternal, and have evolved high risk high stakes game strategy to attract mates (Miller, 2000). Women are impulsively attracted to males with the ability to protect and provide for her and her children (Zajdow, 2002). Buss’s (Buss et al., 1990) remarkable cross- cultural study found that males are inclined to yield mates with physical attractiveness and youth, while women desire mates with more financial power.

Evolutionary psychologists, however, have dedicated little attention to the synergy between the social and cultural environment quality. Social structural perspectives theorize the motive of mate selection mirror people’s effort to make the most of their utilities with respect to mating choices. Marriage is typified as functioning between utility-amplifying women and men to reach stability with economic exchanges (Becker, 1976), implying that differences in mate selection are accountable due to lucid economic arrangements than from the perspective of inherited predispositions (Tattersall, 1998). Eagly and Wood (1999), criticizing the evolutionary perspective, concluded that mate preferences are shaped by the society in which we live today, and conflicting assignment of role portrayed due to sexual division of labor.

Potential accounts for these unlike views include the circumstance of each psychologist. Buss, a male evolutionary psychologist, grew up with an influential background in beliefs that behaviour is a result of how one adapts to their environment. Eagly and Wood elucidate the results contradictorily possibly because they are both females who credit strongly in equality for all, and therefore observe the differences in preferences as a consequence of the principles of today’s society; a key example being the preferred age of females at marriage, affected by a more career-oriented female than in earlier times.

The concept that sexuality is learned is notably provided by sociologists. Studies amid animal primates exhibit abnormal sexual behaviour upon segregation of young apes from monitoring sexual behaviour. Subsequently, the affected ape will acquire sexual behaviour to relatively normal level upon remedial socialisation (the ability to inspect sexuality of other) (Jureidini & Poole 2001). In cultures such as the ‘Mehinaku’ of Brazil, the men engage in limited sexual activity due to the conception of sexual activity as disgusting (Gregor, 1985). Sociologists have discovered that attractive features vary across cultures (Jureidini & Poole 2002). Deviations from the Darwinian Theory have been observed in modern western culture, with the contemporary media depicting thin and lean body types of women body structures as appealing (Vida 1996).

Gender differences in aggression are eminently variable. From an evolutionary viewpoint, aggression can be suitable in a number of situations, for animals (Archer, 1988), and human beings (Buss & Shackelford, 1997). The utility of aggression was to assign individuals over their accessible home range so as to secure the most advantageous utilization of a region and its nutrients (Lorenz, 1966). Such a functional perspective on aggression has been abdicated, with modern consensus that neither humans nor other animals are furnished with the aggressive instinct, and contemplated to be context-dependent (Buss & Shackelford, 1997). With variations in society, the occurrence of aggression between males and females may alter. Increased use of direct and physical means of aggression among girls, have shown to occur in the last decade (Huesmann et al. 1998). One probable account is, perplexingly, the progress of the dignity of women in society.

Human memory evolved because it enhanced fitness in specific environments of evolutionary adaptedness (Tooby & Cosmides, 1992), receptive to subject relevant to evolutionary fitness. Words reckoned for survival relevance in scenarios were subsequently retained at notably higher rates than words rated for relevance in a range of control scenario conditions (Nairne & Pandeirada, 2008). Sex differences in spatial abilities may possibly have an evolutionary basis, with suggested that the division of labor consistently detected in hunter-gatherer societies may have led to remarkable foraging-related cognitive specializations of the sexes (Sherry et al, 1992; Silverman & Eals, 1992). Men typically surpass women on tasks considered to be related to hunting skills (e.g., navigation), while women typically show a lead on tasks requiring memory for objects accumulated in fixed locales (Voyer et al., 2007). Males are inclined to excel in tests of mathematical reasoning than females (Kimura, 1999). Although mathematical abilities may not have primary selective demands in the evolutionary past, that ability may be a by-product of spatial ability (Geary, 1996).

The current essay explained certain concepts of sex differences chiefly from the perception of evolutionary psychology. Some limitations exposed in some arguments, for example the inference on aggressive behaviour in modern times cannot be satisfactory annotated by social constructionist views, while evolutionary views are more credible. As social beings, our surroundings and cultures will play a crucial role when flourishing our identity, whether this affects us biologically when evolving. Hence it is vital to incur comprehensions from many perspectives and deem the supremacy of evolution, the quagmire of social constructions and the impact of environment when determining sex differences in human beings.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 11 October 2016

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