Gender Differences -- Nature Vs. Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Other physical differences in the genders affect their preferences and are seen from infancy as well.

During infancy, males have superior visual acuity. In contrast, female infants demonstrate better auditory discrimination and localization. This leads to males have a greater interest in visual patterning and auditory sequencing for females. Even in adulthood, Kriegman (1999) cites Hutt, visual reinforcers are more effective in male conditioning while females find auditory stimuli more effective. Evolutionary psychologists would see these physical adaptations of the sexes as part of evolution, which then resulted in psychological dispositions and were affected by a social component as well.

Genetics and evolution, in Darwinian fashion, come into play for evolutionary psychologists considering biological factors responsible for gender differentiation in abilities and interests. Psychological gender differences, as surmised by Wood and Eagly (2002)

, were created by the asymmetrical parental investment of males and females. Ancestral women were more invested in offspring, by default with gestation and nursing. For this reason, they became choosier about their mates. Males had to compete for sexual access to women. For this reason, psychological traits such as aggression, competition, and risk taking were developed in males, and behaviors that favored being a good provider for their family were reinforced, not only physically through the males increased physical prowess, but also through the social constructs of the maternal position of the females. Man as competitive risk-takers and women as nurturers is a theme reported in a variety of research (Beckmann & Menkhoff, 2008; Brody & Hall, 2000; Byrnes, Miller & Schafer, 1999; Feingold, 1994; Kring & Gordon, 1998) Cunningham and Russell (1994) note that this also explains gender differences such as man's preference for physical attractiveness, in a mate, whereas women prefer stability and status. Once again, although innate biological features factor into a gender's preference for certain interests and abilities, sociological factors also have an impact.


The debate regarding what specifically causes the psychological differences in men and women is certain to continue. Femininity and masculinity are concepts that are often attributed to either the innate nature of the individual or purportedly forced upon the individual by society itself and the nurturing of well-meaning family. However, upon closer inspection of previous research, it becomes clear that both aspects of nature and nurture come into play when considering the complexities of human psychological development. One cannot ignore the innate traits uncovered of biological twins raised in completely different environments, yet still demonstrating certain identical characteristics. Equally, the sociological aspects of the definition and expectations placed on an individual, from infancy, in relation to their gender cannot be ignored either. Just like the caveman -- although there was an innate ability to be the protector and provider for the family, the social environment reinforced this ability.


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