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Am Psychol. 1996 Sep;51(9):909-17.

Sex differences in social behavior. Are the social role and evolutionary explanations compatible?

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Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, England.


The competing claims of two explanations of sex differences in social behavior, social role theory, and evolutionary psychology are examined. The origin and scope of research on sex differences in social behavior are outlined, and the application of social role theory is discussed. Research that is based on modern sexual selection theory is described, and whether its findings can be explained by social role theory is considered. Findings associated with social role theory are weighed against evolutionary explanations. It is concluded that evolutionary theory accounts much better for the overall pattern of sex differences and for their origins. A coevolutionary approach is proposed to explain cross-cultural consistency in socialization patterns.

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