Register for updates

 
 

Psychology & Psychiatry
RSS Feed
A Social Aspect to the Inheritance of Differing Behaviors of Men and Women
Tuesday, August 15, 2017 12:01:00 PM

New study from Melbourne, Exeter and Tel Aviv Universities suggests gender-specific behaviors can be inherited from social environment, not just from genetics

The different ways men and women behave, passed down from generation to generation, can be inherited from our social environment — not just from genes, according to a new study.

Rather than the sexes acting differently because of genetic inheritance, the human environment and culture allow for the transfer of some gender-specific behavior traits from generation to generation. New advances in evolutionary theory, and current models of how sex influences the brain, suggest that the interactions between the genetic and hormonal components of sex, along with other factors, create variability between individuals for some gender-related traits, while environmental factors supply the stable conditions needed for the reproduction of those traits in each generation.

The study was conducted by Prof. Cordelia Fine of the University of Melbourne, Prof. John Dupré of the University of Exeter and Prof. Daphna Joel from Tel Aviv University. It was recently published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences.

These two important shifts in scientific thinking point to the possibility that gender roles examined across different generations are sometimes best explained in terms of inherited socio-environmental conditions. "Even in non-human mammals, adaptive traits that have reliably developed in offspring for thousands of years can disappear within a few generations, if the relevant environmental conditions change," said Prof. Dupré.

"Genetic inheritance continues to be critical for the capacity to quickly learn an adaptive behavior, but environmental factors that are stable over generations remove any selective pressure for the development of parallel genetic mechanisms," Prof. Dupré observed.

The researchers studied recent thinking from evolution theory and recent findings from studies of the relations between sex and the brain for the study.

As part of another study, Prof. Joel and colleagues found that human brains are composed of unique mosaics of features, some more common in one sex than in the other.

"Masculine and feminine behaviors cannot be explained by the existence of male and female brains, as has previously been suggested," Prof. Joel said. "Our research suggests that intergenerational inheritance of gender-specific traits may be better explained by highly stable features of the social environment."

The article says non-genetic mechanisms may be particularly important in humans because our culture strongly encourages us to have male or female roles. The enormous human capacity to learn also allows for information to be passed from generation to generation.

"We need to question the pervasive assumption that it is always biological sex, via its direct action on the brain, that does the 'heavy lifting' when it comes to the gender traits we inherit and display," Prof. Fine said.




Latest News

TAU Archaeologists Discover "Oldest School in the World"

Ancestors of modern humans taught their children how to make flint tools at prehistoric school, researchers say.

Novel Nanomedicine Inhibits the Progression of Pancreatic Cancer in Mouse Models, TAU Researchers Say

Survival rates in pancreatic cancer linked to inverse correlation between specific oncogene and tumor suppressant.

From the Omelette to the Egg: Reversing Protein Aggregations

Some protein aggregations are reversible and beneficial, TAU researchers say.

TAU Scientists Make Paralyzed Rats Walk Again

Using stem cell-based biomedical engineering to rehabilitate a severed spinal cord, TAU and Technion scientists restore control of their legs.

Byzantine Mosaic Unearthed at Ashdod-Yam in Israel

Greek inscription is earliest known use of the Georgian calendar, TAU researchers say.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy May Alleviate Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

Treatment has potential to correct behavioral and physical deficits associated with the disease, TAU researchers say.

Skipping Breakfast Disrupts "Clock Genes" that Regulate Body Weight and Glucose

Consuming breakfast normalizes the expression of genes that improve insulin and glucose responses all day long, TAU researchers say.

Dual Virtual Reality/Treadmill Exercises Promote Brain Plasticity in Parkinson's Patients

Therapy effective even in later stages of the disease, TAU researchers say.

AFTAU to Celebrate the Steve Tisch School of Film & Television at Annual Gala Dinner

Philanthropist and producer Steve Tisch to be honored; prominent industry leaders to serve as vice chairs.

Children's Exposure to Secondhand Smoke May Be Vastly Underestimated by Parents

Smoking parents misperceive where and when their kids are exposed to cigarette smoke, TAU researchers say.

contentSecondary
c

© 2018 American Friends of Tel Aviv University
39 Broadway, Suite 1510 | New York, NY 10006 | 212.742.9070 | info@aftau.org
Privacy policy | Tel Aviv University