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In the excerpt below what is the author telling us about the nature versus nurture...

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readeal3 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted January 21, 2013 at 1:56 PM via web

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In the excerpt below what is the author telling us about the nature versus nurture question?

excerpt from journal: Paul V Crosbie - The Effects on Sex and Size of Status Ranking.

If the nature argument has changed little,

the nurture argument seems to have

changed less. Though most of us no longer

explicitly deny the possibility of biological

sex influence, we relegate it to secondary

importance, theoretically, and we ignore it

altogether in our research. When it is considered

at all theoretically, biological sex

is treated as an indirect rather than a direct

cause of sex-role behavior. Biological

sex differences, particularly observable

sex characteristics, are seen as stimuli for

intervening, culturally relative, social

factors. These sociocultural factors, however,

and not biological sex, per se, are

seen as the principal and direct causes of

sex-role behavior.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 21, 2013 at 2:52 PM (Answer #1)

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Just going by what is actually said in this short excerpt, the author is telling us that researchers do not consider nature to be any sort of a factor in the different roles that men and women play in our society.  However, in using this as a source, it would be a good idea to read further.  This excerpt sounds very much as if the author is criticizing his fellow researchers.  He may be about to outline his ideas as to why nature should be taken into account.

What the author is saying in this excerpt is that researchers do not consider nature when they are researching differences between the sexes.  If they do think about nature, they only think about it as something that causes societies to create different roles for men and women.  These roles (and not the actual differences between men and women) are what cause different behaviors by men and women.

For example, let us say that we observe that men are more aggressive than women.  We could attribute this to nature by saying that men have more testosterone and are therefore more likely to be aggressive.  However, the author is saying that researchers do not think this way.  They would say that the real cause of the aggression is social roles.  They would say that men are more aggressive because society tells them they should be aggressive and it tells women they should be more passive.

This is a very difficult argument to prove or disprove.  Just using our example of aggression, we would have to get a very large sample of men and test their testosterone levels.  We would have to have some way of objectively measuring aggression (does only physical aggression count, or do things like financial aggression count as well).  We would then have to compare the two. 

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