Evolutionary Explanation of Gender Development

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Outline and evaluate the evolutionary explanation of gender development. Gender refers to the concepts o masculine and feminine whereas sex is the biological fact of being a male or female. According to the evolutionary approach, gender differences are neither deliberate nor conscious; they exist because they enhanced or helped men and women perform particular types of roles in the past. Therefore, the role differences we observe are more a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through socialisation. Part of the evolutionary explanation is Trivers’ parental investment theory which argues that the origin of behavioural differences between men and women lies in the different ways of achieving reproductive success. Trivers (1972) suggests that for males, offspring involves little parental investment whereas the reproduction for the human female involves considerable investment. The best strategy for reproductive success for a human female is to ensure the survival of her offspring. These traits, of investment level compared to masculinity and femininity, were passed down as a desired behaviour. A debate of this approach is the nature vs. nurture approach, nature supporting the evolutionary approach being that we have evolved through survival value and its ability to increase an individual’s opportunities to pass on their genes. Nurture, on the other hand, is a view proposed by the social approach suggesting behaviour is affected by experience and environment. The evolutionary explanation of gender developed has been helpful in understanding why physical differences such as body dimorphism exist between men and women. Furthermore, the parental investment theory can explain differences in aggression between men and women. However, a problem with the evolutionary theory of gender is that evolutionary accounts can’t be tested using scientific methods, as it is not possible to go back in time. This means that we cannot be completely sure if this theory...
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