The study of sex differences: Feminism and biology

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Abstract

The rise of research in behavior genetics, endocrinology, neurotransmitter systems, brain imaging, and evolutionary psychology bears witness to psychology's increasingly biological stance. This approach has been fiercely opposed by some academic feminists. This paper examines and responds to three of their key objections: determinism (the brain as an evolved organ is unresponsive to its environment), politics (the demonstration of sex differences obstructs the goal of gender equality), and epistemology (notions of cause and effect should be replaced by the study of the social construction of gender). The second part of the paper suggests some areas of convergence between the interests of feminists and biologically minded researchers. These include the role of neuropeptides in modulating sex differences; male-female conflict at a genetic and behavioral level; the functions and social impact of peer group sex segregation; the evolution and contemporary effects of cultural transmission and the role of higher-order cognitive systems in modulating the expression of evolved emotional adaptations., (C) 2012 by the American Psychological Association

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Authors

  • Anne Campbell

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