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Posted on June 8th, 2012, by

Traditionally, the differences existing between sexes and genders were discussed among psychologists who attempted to reveal the essence and major causes of these differences. As a result, a variety of perspectives on gender and sex has been developed in psychology. It is worthy of mention that, regardless the numerous theories and approaches to this problem, the universal theory has not been developed yet. At any rate, there is not a single theory that could be accepted by all specialists working on the problem of sex and gender. Nevertheless, some theories became really popular and found numerous supporters who sincerely believe that these theories are correct and clearly explain the major differences existing between sexes and their causes. In this respect, it is possible to name biological and evolutionary psychology which developed their unique view on sex and gender and which attempted to explain scientifically the difference between sexes and its causes.

Biological psychology

Biological psychology is probably one of the most popular theoretical approaches to sex and gender. However, this approach may be viewed as traditional one because it attempts to explain the difference that exists between sexes by purely biological factors (p.116). Basically, the biological perspective on psychology and sex implies that sex differences are determined by three groups of factors, including sexing of bodies, sex differences in the brain and biological correlates of behaviour (p.115). The latter is mainly determined by the former two factors.

On analyzing biological psychology in relation to sex and gender, it is necessary to point out that this approach primarily singles out the existing physical differences between male and female bodies. To put it more precisely, the supporters of this approach argue that male and female differs considerably in their body construction. This means that male and female have physical features which are typical uniquely for each sex. Among these physical features they name genitals, anthropologic difference between male and female, such as average height, physical strength, etc. In such a way, biological psychology stands on the ground that male and female are physically different and have different physical opportunities that, to a significant extent, defines their behaviour which turns to be typical to their sex and depends on their physical capabilities.

At the same time, along obvious, external, physical features due to which males and females are distinguished, there are more profound differences, which are hidden from a human eye but which effect may be even stronger than the effect of external, physical differences. In fact, biological psychologists argue that males and females have a different balance of hormones (p.124). In this respect, it should be said that even though all humans have the similar set of hormones but their balance may differ that actually, according to biological psychologists, defines the difference between males and females. The same may be said about the set of chromosome since males traditionally have ”˜XY’ while females two ”˜X’ pairs of chromosomes (p.125).

Moreover, biological psychology stands on the ground that the difference may be traced even in one of the most important organs of human body, the brain. Such difference actually determines the difference in behaviour of males and females. For instance, biological psychology admits the existence of brain lateralization between males and females, which determines the significant difference in behaviour and abilities of males and females. To put it more precisely, it is a scientifically proved fact that right and left hemispheres of human brain are specialized on different cognitive functions. The left hemisphere is responsible for language while the right for visuo-spatial and mathematical functioning (p.130). In this respect, biological psychologists point out that males and females have difference in the development or domination of hemispheres. For instance, the left hemisphere is dominating in females brain while the right one in males brain.

As a result, due to the existence of numerous physiological or biological differences in the body sexing, brain, hormone balance and genes combination the behaviour of males and females differ considerably so that males and females may be more successful in different spheres.

Evolutionary psychology

Unlike the biological approach, the evolutionary perspective on gender and sex is based on the idea that the difference between males and females is basically determined by the evolution of humans as one of the species (p.116). At the same time it is worthy of mention that evolutionary psychology basically refers to the behavioural differences between males and females (p.115) though genetic factors, heritage and, therefore physical changes that occurred to humans, both males and females, are also important to this approach.

Speaking about evolutionary psychology, it should be pointed out that this approach basically stands on the ground that the difference between sexes and behaviour of males and females are determined by the difference in their optimal reproductive style (p.131). This means that males and females have different trends in their reproductive style and their reproductive success is determined by different factors as well as the assessment of the reproductive success is measured differently by males and females that is the result of the evolutionary development of human race, where representatives of different sexes fulfilled different functions in society in terms of their ”˜parental investment’ (p.131).

In fact, the behavioural difference between males and females is determined by their reproductive success which forces them act differently. In this respect, it is necessary to underline that, in the course of the evolution, it was extremely important to females to bear children and take care about their development after their birth. What is meant here is the fact that females should pay more attention to the qualities of their sexual partners in order to provide their children with larger number of positive qualities which could guarantee their survival in the process of evolution. Typically to evolutionists, evolutionary psychology underlines that reproductive success of females depended on their selection of circumstances and sexual partners in order to get healthier and more competitive offspring (p.132).

In stark contrast, males’ reproductive success basically depended on the amount of their sexual partners that could provide them with an opportunity to fully realize their reproductive potential (p.132). This is why males mainly tended to polygamy and at the same time they were very concerned about the infidelity of females that was perceived by them as the threat to their reproductive success (p.133), instead, females were more careful in their selection that actually determined the difference in behaviour of males and females. To put it more precisely, males tend to be polygamist while females often tend to monogamy as long as their reproductive success is guaranteed.

Conclusion

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that biological and evolutionary perspectives on the difference between sex and gender vary considerably. At the same time it is still possible to trace some common features between both perspectives. For instance, genetic and heritage is quite important to both biological and evolutionary psychology in their approach to sex and gender. On the other hand, biological perspective basically focuses on the purely physiological difference both internal and external between males and females that determines the difference in the behaviour of both sexes. In stark contrast, evolutionary psychology basically focuses on the factors that played the key role in the evolution of human race and which actually determined the difference in behaviour of representatives of different sexes. Nevertheless, in spite of the existing differences in views of supporters of biological and evolutionary approaches, they are important and may be viewed as complementary since they help better understand the differences between male and female behaviour and its causes.

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