Most research into gender roles has occurred in Western societies, and generally shows a clear divide in gender roles, most encouraging masculine behaviour in boys, and feminine behaviour in girls. However, in order to further explore the idea of nature vs. nurture (biological vs. social approach); it is important to research gender roles in a variety of countries. If clear themes, it may indicate that gender role development is nature, as would show that men are similar to men across the whole world, and likewise for females, showing there must be something determining the way men work, whereas if there are clear culture differences, it would imply social factors determine gender.
Cross cultural research has been explored for many years by anthropologists. Some of the earliest work came from Margret Mead in the 1930’s. Comparing three Papua New Guinean tribes, the Arapesh, the Mundugumor and the Tchambuli, she discovered different behaviours displayed by both men and women in each individual tribe. In the Arapesh, men and women were seen to be gentle, responsive- fitting the Western stereotype as feminine. In the Mundugumor tribe, she found males and females to violent and aggressive- the Western stereotype of masculinity and finally in the Tchambuli tribe, she found role reversal to Western stereotypes, as males were more emotionally dependant and flirtatious, whereas the females were dominant, impersonal and definite. Although at first, Mead concluded that her research showed that gender roles came through cultural determinism as big differences were found between males and females in different cultures, implying that gender roles were driven by social factors. However, after later analysis and extending her research to look at other tribes in Samoa, she changed her view (1949) to that her research actually showed cultural determinism, as despite differences in the roles males and females played in each