Empathy and Same-Sex Social Relationships

A couple of stories on ScienceDaily relate a bit to evolutionary psychology. First, a study finds that men are more tolerant of same-sex peers than women and that men, on average, tend to have larger same-sex social networks than women. The researchers believe that women may be more sensitive to negative input, or may weigh negative input heaver than males.

The second story is about a mouse study which shows that empathy is based partly on genes. The article states that future research must be done to determine the exact genetic differnces between the two mouse strains used, stating that the mice used in the experimental group were “genetically different…with fewer social tendencies.

How do these relate to evolutionary psychology? EP presumes that men and women will display behavioral and cognitive differences. One example is the female and male bell curves for IQ. They have the same mean but the male curve is flatter with a higher population in the outliers. That means more geniuses and more retardation.

Evolutionary psychologists also believe that genetics determine behavior. The FOXP2 gene has been implicated in language acquisition and now, after a good bit of debate, we are seeing studies that show some genetic link to empathy.

I have my issues with evolutionary psychology, but I think overall these guys are on to something. I’ll hit my criticisms in a later post.

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