Sex Differences in Some Domain

Sex Differences in Some Domain - Sex Differences in Some...

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Sex Differences in Some Domain-Specific Mechanisms Discussions of adaptive systems among children inevitably raise the difficult question of specifying the adaptive niche of childhood and the relationship between adult systems and their precursors in children. From an evolutionary engineering standpoint, if a particular set of systems (e.g., those related to aggression) are important in adulthood then they must emerge full blown at some point during development. They need not, of course, develop at birth or during early childhood (e.g., the reproductive organs are not competent until adolescence). Nevertheless, there are at least three reasons to suppose that systems important in adulthood will often emerge much earlier at least in truncated form. (1) Advanced animals are characterized by a prolonged period of plasticity in which learning takes place, typically during play (Fagen 1983; MacDonald 1988, 1993; Smith 1982). Important behavioral systems are not genetically "hard-wired" units which suddenly emerge full blown in adulthood. There is a prolonged training period during which skills are honed and lessons learned. Thus the fact that boys are more aggressive than girls during nursery school quite possibly has nothing whatever to do with their obtaining more resources at this age which in turn leads to greater success as an adult. Nevertheless, the presence of this system allows the child to develop skills related to being effectively aggressive when it really counts. Consistent with this, Pellegrini (1988) notes a shift in rough and tumble (r & t) play from a cooperative, playful style in younger children to a rougher style associated with dominance interactions and aggression in early adolescence. (2) Secondly, evolved systems may be adaptive in childhood. In the following, I will discuss three biological systems which show sex differences during childhood. Two of these systems can be reasonably viewed as having an adaptive function during childhood (MacDonald 1988, 1995). Thus the behavioral approach systems are associated with curiosity, exploratory behavior, creativity (see MacDonald 1988; 1993), and holistic, synthetic thought processes (Tucker & Williamson 1984). This trait is thus associated with interest in and responsiveness to the environment (whether social or non-social), and is thus presumably an important aspect of play (and certainly r & t play [see below]) as a general Piagetian environment'engagement device. Evolutionary analyses of play emphasize the function of play as involving intrinsic motivators which facilitate interaction with the environment (e.g., Fagen 1981; MacDonald 1988, 1993; Smith 1982). Similarly, systems underlying behavioral avoidance are functional beginning early in life as systems that responds to external threats with behavioral inhibition and emotions such (3) Another reason for discussing evolved systems during childhood is that if a biological system
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This note was uploaded on 11/17/2011 for the course PSY PSY2012 taught by Professor Scheff during the Fall '09 term at Broward College.

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Sex Differences in Some Domain - Sex Differences in Some...

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