Ah, that immutable primate heritage

rhesusRichie at Crimitism takes on the latest piece of simian research (rhesus monkeys this time) which is being spun as proving something about innate gender tendencies. He details the various ways in which the spin fails to take certain results of the study (which don’t support certain preconceived stances) into account, and asks plaintively whether it is really too much to expect that people be logically consistent in their idiocy?

And then as a casual Parthian shot, he drops the zinger: isn’t there a fundamental problem anyway in assuming that preferences for wheeled toys tell us anything about innate preferences hardcoded into our simian heritage in the jungle, even before our primate ancestors gained the savannah?

Nicely done.

Categories: gender & feminism, skepticism

3 replies

  1. From my little reading of the summaries around the traps (I cannot get at the full text from Hormones and Behaviour), it may simply be that the males are rejecting the idea of playing with the dolls, rather than have a particular liking for wheeled toys. This is a plausible reason for the results: the males don’t want to engage in what they perceive as “feminine” behaviours.
    The females had no preference either way. The “boys toys” were not offputting. In other words, if in a particular human society females showed a preference for plush dolls over non-“feminine” toys, that preference is probably cultural.
    I’d imagine if you put cups and saucers out there (something the males would not associate with feminine troop roles, but might be considered “housewifely” by humans), the males would have happily played with those, whether the males had been raised away from human culture, or knew what cups and saucers were for.
    A useful study, but interpretation is everything.
    Dave Bath’s last blog post..Moonbuggy Race 2008

  2. … the males don’t want to engage in what they perceive as “feminine” behaviours.

    Can’t gainsay that. Knowledge of what’s “feminine” and therefore unbecoming to a male is innate in all primates, from the lemurs up. Well known fact, that is. Lemurs, in particular, are notorious poofter bashers.

  3. Gotta agree with Gummo’s snark there, Dave.
    There’s another fun take-down of a badly reported study spun along evo-psych lines (and this time it appears it was also a badly designed study) in Pandagon’s “Science for choads” category today: Using 15 college age boys and some reactionary reporting, we are able to blame the coming depression on boobage

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