Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture

Emotions Conference 2016 (9 of 20) | Melvin Konner | Gender Differences in Emotion, Motivation, and Behavior: Can Culture Explain Them All?

Episode Summary

Emotions Conference 2016 (9 of 20) | Melvin Konner | Gender Differences in Emotion, Motivation, and Behavior: Can Culture Explain Them All?

Episode Notes

Konner will argue, as he did at length in Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy (Norton, 2015), that a current consensus of neural and neuroendocrine research, in the context of neodarwinian sexual selection and phylogenetic, cross-cultural, historical, and psychological perspectives, now suggests that sex differences in some behaviors (notably violence and driven sexuality) and their underlying emotions and motivations require a partly biological explanation. There are no sex differences in general intelligence, or in many measures of cognitive function, skill, motivation, or emotion. Other measures of emotion (for example, the intensity of publicly expressed grief) are strongly influenced by cultural models and show marked cross-cultural variation in the character and degree of gender differences. But the current scientific consensus is that culture (including upbringing, education, models, and media) cannot explain all gender differences in behavior, emotion, and motivation, although it can explain most such differences. Thoughtful people are rightly concerned about the philosophical and political implications of this consensus. Konner will argue that biological facts and perspectives can now be deployed in favor of gender equality rather than against it. (February 11, 2016)