The Early Development of Gender Differences

Topics: Gender, Sex, Sexual dimorphism Pages: 16 (8138 words) Published: May 26, 2014
University of Nebraska - Lincoln

DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Faculty Publications, Department of Psychology

Psychology, Department of


The Early Development of Gender Differences
Matthew H. McIntyre
University of Central Florida,

Carolyn P. Edwards
University of Nebraska - Lincoln,

Follow this and additional works at: Part of the Psychiatry and Psychology Commons
McIntyre, Matthew H. and Edwards, Carolyn P., "The Early Development of Gender Differences" (2009). Faculty Publications, Department of Psychology. Paper 402.

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Published in Annual Review of Anthropology 38 (October 2009), pp. 83-97; doi: 10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164338 Copyright © 2009 by Annual Reviews. Used by permission.

Published online June 17, 2009.

The Early Development
of Gender Differences
Matthew H. McIntyre 1 and Carolyn Pope Edwards 2

1 Department of Anthropology,
University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816;
2 Departments

of Psychology and Child, Youth, and Family Studies,
University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588;

This article reviews findings from anthropology, psychology, and other disciplines about the role of biological factors in the development of sex differences in human behavior, including biological theories, the developmental course of sex differences, and the interaction of biological and cultural gendering processes at different ages. Current evidence suggests that major biological influences on individual differences in human gender, to the extent that they exist, operate primarily in early development, during and especially prior to puberty. Biological effects are likely to be mediated by relatively simple processes, like temperament, which are then elaborated through social interactions (as with mother and peers) into more complex gendered features of adult personality. Biological anthropologists and psychologists interested in gender should direct more attention to understanding how social processes influence the development and function of the reproductive endocrine system.

Keywords: reproductive ecology, evolutionary psychology, patriarchy, dominance, temperament


McIntyre & Pope Edwards


A nnual R eview

The purpose of this review is to summarize
the current evidence about the role of biological factors in the development of human gender over the life course. Rather than accept the distinction between biological sex and cultural gender, we employ the term

gender very broadly to include both sex differences themselves and the cultural and biological processes that shape them. At the risk of over-reaching, we address between-sex
differences, related within-sex variation, and
broader features of human social systems
such as patriarchy. Our review begins with
biological theory about gender and its application to the evolution of human sex differentiation, followed by a discussion of the developmental course of human sex differences and the various biological and social gendering processes. As such, we also consider research from many disciplines, including tentative consideration of sociocultural studies conducted from a humanistic perspective.

One important topic that we unfortunately
leave out is sexuality.
Biological Theories about Human Gender
Biological theory about gender (even if that
term is not always used) refers to the existence, in sexually...

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