Gender, Nature, and Nurture - Richard A. Lippa 2014


I don't know about you, but throughout my life I have been puzzled by the behavior of both men and women. When I go to the gym, I am bemused by men's animated conversations about football games and cars, and when I go to a local gift shop, I am equally bemused by women who endlessly discuss how "darling" various ceramic figurines are. I don't think I am alone in finding both men and women somewhat inscrutable, each in their own way. And I am certainly not alone in pondering the nature and nurture of gender.

Most of us spend a considerable amount of time trying to understand what makes individual boys, girls, men, and women tick, so most of us constantly grapple with gender, either consciously or unconsciously. We live and work and play with members of both sexes, and inevitably, we love and loathe individual males and females. If nothing else, the topic of gender carries with it immense egocentric appeal, for we all possesses gender, in one form or another. And of course, the topic of gender is intimately tied to other favorite topics: love, sex, and romance. In a more serious and political vein, our personal views of gender are linked to other important attitudes, about affirmative action, sexual harassment, women in the military, and a host of other topics. For all of these reasons, gender is a hot topic: in everyday conversations, on talk shows, and in popular books.

Gender is also a hot topic among scientists. It has long been the focus of a veritable cottage industry of empirical research in the social and biological sciences, and after decades of concerted effort, scientists now have a lot to say about the causes and consequences of gender. The book you are about to read—Gender, Nature, and Nurture, second edition—presents a straightforward and accessible summary of scientific findings about gender. It offers a balanced and fair-minded account of what science currently does and does not know about the behavior of males and females, and it describes the major theories that have attempted to explain gender differences, gender similarities, and gender variations.

Because Gender, Nature, and Nurture is, on one level, a primer of gender research, it is ideally suited for classes on the psychology of women, the psychology of men, gender roles, and gender. It can also serve as a stimulating accompaniment to introductory psychology and critical thinking classes, for it addresses many mainstream topics in psychology (personality, abnormal behavior, social behavior, cognitive abilities, biological psychology, behavioral genetics, evolutionary psychology) from the vantage point of a single unifying theme—gender. Students who read Gender, Nature, and Nurture will necessarily exercise their critical thinking skills as they evaluate competing theories and integrate complex strands of empirical evidence. They will also learn how scientific research applies to real-life, public policy questions. They will come to appreciate that science is an ongoing debate as much as a fixed and finished body of facts.

Gender, Nature, and Nurture should appeal to the general reader, too, because it provides a readable, up-to-date summary of research on a topic that affects us all. In addition to presenting scientific findings, the book tackles many important real-life questions. Should boys and girls be reared alike? Should mothers be granted custody of young children more often than fathers? Is sexual violence a male rather than female problem, and does it have biological roots? Should corporations treat male and female employees the same? Why do men still earn more than women do, and what should society do about this difference? What roles should women and men assume in the military? Consideration of these questions demonstrates that scientific research can have important social consequences and that the nature-nurture debate is not just an academic exercise.

Reflecting the rapidly evolving research literature on sex and gender, the second edition of Gender, Nature, and Nurture addresses many new topics and findings. The added content includes the following:

· Updated research on sex differences in personality

· Results of a meta-analysis of sex differences in real-life measures of aggression

· Discussion of sex differences in children's activity levels

· Discussion of sex differences in moral thought and behavior

· Research on cross-cultural consistencies and variations in men's and women's sexual behavior

· Research on sex differences in antisocial behavior

· An expanded account of sex differences in children's play

· Research on masculinity, femininity, and psychological adjustment

· A section on nonhormonal, direct genetic effects on sexual differentiation

· An expanded account of social learning theories of gender

· An expanded account of social contructionist views of gender

· A section on hormones and maternal behavior

· A section on the digital divide and research on male's and female's attitudes toward computers

· A section on gender, work, and pay

Writing a book is a complex process that involves many people. The following reviewers carefully read the first edition of Gender; Nature, and Nurture and offered many valuable and constructive suggestions for the second edition: Nanci Weinberger of Bryant College; Sharon G. Portwood of the University of Missouri, Kansas City; Mary E. Kite of Ball State University; Christia Spears Brown of the University of California, Los Angeles; and Lori Van Wallendael of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Thanks to Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Editor, Debra Riegert, for guiding this project from inception to completion. Thanks, too, to Larry Erlbaum for supporting this project, and thanks to the Erlbaum staff for transforming a set of word processing files into an attractive, finished book. And most of all, thanks to the many scholars who have ceaselessly probed the nature and nurture of gender. Their work encourages us all to celebrate the amazing diversity of men and women and to appreciate the common humanity of all people, regardless of their sex or gender.

Richard Lippa

Psychology Department

California State University, Fullerton