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Review
, 128 (4), 485-514

Do Psychological Sex Differences Reflect Evolutionary Bisexual Partitioning?

Review

Do Psychological Sex Differences Reflect Evolutionary Bisexual Partitioning?

Irina Trofimova. Am J Psychol.

Abstract

This article analyzes sex differences in communicative and exploratory abilities and mental disabilities from the rarely discussed perspective of sex differences in the shape of phenotypic distributions. The article reviews the most consistent findings related to such differences and compares them with the evolutionary theory of sex (ETS). The ETS considers sexual dimorphism as a functional specialization of a species into 2 partitions: variational and conservational. The analysis suggests that male superiority in risk and sensation seeking and physical abilities; higher rates of psychopathy, dyslexia, and autism; and higher birth and accidental death rates reflects the systemic variational function of the male sex. Female superiority in verbal abilities, lawfulness, socialization, empathy, and agreeableness is presented as a reflection of the systemic conservational function of the female sex. From this perspective psychological sex differences in communicative and exploratory abilities might not just be an accidental result of sexual selection or labor distribution in early humans. It might reflect a global functional differentiation tendency within a species to expand its phenotypic diversity and at the same time to conserve beneficial features in the species' behavior. The article also offers an addition to the ETS by suggesting that the male sex (variable partition) plays an evolutionary role in pruning of the redundant excesses in a species' bank of beneficial characteristics despite resistance from the conservational partition.

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