Misrepresentations of evolutionary psychology in sex and gender textbooks

Evol Psychol. 2014 May 20;12(3):474-508.


Evolutionary psychology has provoked controversy, especially when applied to human sex differences. We hypothesize that this is partly due to misunderstandings of evolutionary psychology that are perpetuated by undergraduate sex and gender textbooks. As an initial test of this hypothesis, we develop a catalog of eight types of errors and document their occurrence in 15 widely used sex and gender textbooks. Consistent with our hypothesis, of the 12 textbooks that discussed evolutionary psychology, all contained at least one error, and the median number of errors was five. The most common types of errors were "Straw Man," "Biological Determinism," and "Species Selection." We conclude by suggesting improvements to undergraduate sex and gender textbooks.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Psychology / education*
  • Psychology / standards
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Textbooks as Topic / standards*
  • Universities / standards*