Parental Investment Theory

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The socio-biological theory suggests gender appropriate behaviour has evolved to allow humanity to survive. There is supporting evidence in the composition of the human body; men have a larger lung capacity and greater physical strength than women in order to better equip them for protecting their family. In contrast, women are born with child-bearing capacities and are therefore biologically predetermined to care for their children, thus ensuring the human race survives.

In 1994 Kenrick introduced “Parental Investment Theory”. He claimed society is organised so that women are protected and remain faithful, ensuring men are able to impart their genes to future generations. This also allows for women to be selective to ensure their partner provides food, shelter and other basic human necessities.

Kenrick’s ideas are supported by Buss’ 1994 experiment. Buss surveyed men and women in thirty seven countries to investigate important qualities in the opposite sex. The findings showed that women preferred resourcefulness and dependability whereas men valued chastity and youth. This study appears to support Kenrick’s “Parental Investment Theory” as Buss argues that men evolved to provide for their partners and are attracted to fertile women.

Oestrogen receptors in the brain are believed to cause gender-appropriate behaviour. Oestrogen, a hormone found in the female genital tissue, acts as a ligand and, by activating the oestrogen receptors found on the surfaces of brain cells, causes notable changes in behaviour. Professors at Yale University have studied the effects of oestrogen and found the hormone increases neural connectivity in the brain resulting in a more accurate memory. Turnham et al (2002) supports this as upon investigation...

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...o carry out a perfect experiment and consequently all evidence will be flawed. It is necessary to focus upon evaluating the severity of such flaws. One could argue that the biosocial theory is more convincing as the many strengths of the socio-biological and social learning theories are combined providing a credible explanation. This also means the scientific facts in the socio-biological theory are no longer undermined but indeed strengthened by evidence to support learnt gender-appropriate behaviours. The biosocial theory allows for both schools of thought to be equally considered. Overall the Hegelian dialectic mechanism can be applied; the hypothesis, in this case the socio-biological explanation, and the antithesis, the social learning paradigm, must co-exist to produce the resulting synthesis, gender-appropriate behaviours. Thus girls are both born and made.

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