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Sex Differences

people orientation vs. thing orientation

Simon baron Coehn neonatal sex differences

Why do people care?

  • Only mental differences controversial
  • Political (inequality and nature/nurture)
  • Scientific investigation. EP assumes differences are genetic, although that assumption may not be entirely necessary. Cultural evolution plausibly also seeks successful reproduction, so the presence of such adaptations doesn't prove primacy of the genetic process. The “smart unconscious” and motivational opacity are also useful parts of the EP toolkit that help to understand subjectively puzzling aspects of the human condition.
  • Personal understanding. Source of differences does not matter, but EP implicitly draws this in. Popular assumption is that differences are innate.

How important is it to make the point that, regarded as animals, we are in many ways outliers? High reproductive investment. Necessitated help from father, others. EP says fathers help most, then relatives.

There are many differences between men and women that are easily noticeable (appearance) or directly measurable (body size.) The reality of these differences is clear, and it is widely accepted that such anatomic differences are the result of a genetically programmed developmental sequence (Sexual differentiation.)

Men and women also show clear behavior differences, and every culture has different standards for how men and women should behave (gender roles.) Are these behavior differences learned? Are they genetically determined? There is an ongoing Nature Versus Nurture debate about sex differences in the human Mind, see Individual Differences and Fairness.

Knowing typical sex differences, it is possible to make weak predictions of how a person will behave, but it's pretty hard to predict anyone's behavior, male or female (Prediction is Intractable.)

We can scientifically investigate sex differences in thinking and behavior without knowing what causes these differences. What differences are there, and how big are the differences? Numerous statistically significant differences have been identified by psychological tests and surveys, such as that men tend to have superior spatial skills, and that women tend to Although these tre

The widespread interest in scientific investigation of sex differences comes mainly from a desire to explain or understand the behavior someone of the opposite sex, especially lovers.

That is, beliefs about sex differences are theories that people use to explain

Evolutionary Theories

Most obvious are the differences in reproductive organs and reproduction-related behavior.

As in all placental Mammals, the baby is gestated internally by the mother and then nursed after birth. In humans the approach of giving birth to a relatively immature infant is taken to an extreme. The typical age at maturity of a mammal the size of a human is 3 years, while human sexual maturity is at about 13 years. Human dependency on adult care also extends beyond sexual maturity, which is quite unusual for any animal.

Because of extreme immaturity at birth, a human infant requires intensive care, including breastfeeding. In addition, the extended parental dependency means all of a woman's offspring will be dependents for a large part of the mother's life. In most mammals, the mother provides all parental care, feeding and protecting her children, as well as continuing to support herself. In contrast, humans are cultural animals who cooperate when raising children (and in most other tasks of living.)

Humans also form emotional attachments with their sexual partners and with children. These love attachments are crucial to the maintenance of the family, the most basic unit of human social organization. Family structure and behavior is greatly influenced by cultural norms, but a family usually contains at least a mother, her children and a man who is her sexual partner (the social father.) The father sometimes assists by providing direct child care, often assists by helping to obtain food, clothing and shelter, and almost always participates in the larger community in ways that may indirectly benefit the family, such as publicly advocacy of family interests, production and consumption in the economy, and military service.

Because the bonds between parents are sexual, cultural standards of appropriate male and female behavior cannot be separated from the norms about family structure.

The mother and father take various roles in the family and in the community, influenced

This means that the mother must invest considerable time and energy in raising young, while the father's contribution might be as little as the sperm itself. While this difference in parental investment is common to all mammals,

Diverse family structures are used, Assistance comes from relatives and from other community members (friends, neighbors, paid caregivers.) A family usually contains at a woman who is

See also: Evolutionary Psychology, and Sex Differences In Human Mate Preferences.

analysis/nature/sex_differences.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/30 10:56 by ram