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Gender Differences in Cooperation and Competition The Male-Warrior Hypothesis


Gender Differences in Cooperation and Competition The Male-Warrior Hypothesis Written by Mark Van Vugt, David De Cremer & Dirk P. Janssen University of Kent ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Gender Differences in Cooperation and Competition The Male-Warrior Hypothesis

  • Gender Differences in Cooperation and
    Competition The Male-Warrior Hypothesis
  • Written by Mark Van Vugt, David De Cremer Dirk
    P. Janssen
  • University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom,
    and University of Tilburg, Tilburg, The
  • Presentation by Matt Kearns Megan Dodge

A tribe including many members who, from
possessing in high degree the spirit of
patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and
sympathy, were always ready to aid one another,
and to sacrifice themselves for the common good,
would be victorious over most other tribes, and
this would be natural selection. (Darwin, 1871)
  • Evolutionary scientists argue that human
    cooperation is the product of a long history of
    competition among rival groups.
  • This logic applies particularly to men
  • 3 Experiments - using a step-level public goods
  • Findings men contributed more to their group if
    their group was competing with other groups than
    if there was no intergroup competition
  • Female cooperation was relatively unaffected by
    intergroup competition
  • Findings suggest that men respond more strongly
    than women to intergroup threats.

  • Evolutionary minded social scientists assert that
    human altruism and cooperation are the result of
    the species unique history of intergroup
    conflict and warfare.
  • Humans spontaneously make us versus them
    categorizations and quickly develop deep
    emotional attachments to groups.
  • Humans also readily discriminate against members
    of out-groups and engage in costly altruistic
    actions to defend their group.

  • Men are more likely than women to engage in
    intergroup rivalry because for them the benefits
    (access to mates/prestige) sometimes outweigh the
  • In traditional societies tribal warfare is almost
    exclusively the domain of men and male warriors
    have more sexual partners and greater status
    within their community than other men.
  • U.S. male street gang members have above average
    mating opportunities.
  • Women are more interpersonally oriented, men are
    more group oriented.
  • Men recall group events better than women and men
    engage more frequently in competitive
    between-group interactions.

  • The Male Warrior Hypothesis
  • An ancestral history of frequent and violent
    intergroup conflict has shaped the social
    psychology and behavior of men in particular and
    mens behaviors and cognitions are more
    intergroup oriented than womens.
  • Researchers used a social dilemma task in 3
    experiments to test their hypothesis.
  • Prediction
  • Men increase their altruistic group contributions
    during intergroup competition more than women.

Experiment I Participants
  • 120 undergraduate students at the University of
    Southampton, England, participated in this
  • 33 Men
  • 67 Women

Experiment I Design Procedure
  • Participants were randomly assigned to one of two
    experimental conditions
  • A individual or group (competitive) condition
  • Each participant was placed in front of a
    computer in a separate cubicle, and all
    instructions were administered via the computer.
  • Each member of the group received an endowment of
    4, which could be kept for him-or-herself or
    invested in the group, but not divided between
    the two options.
  • If the group as a whole contributed 16 or more
    to the group fund (i.e., if at least 4 of 6
    members contributed their 4), then each group
    member would receive 4, regardless of whether he
    or she made a contribution. But if the group
    failed to contribute 16, no bonuses were given
    out, and only the contributors would lose their

Experiment I Design Procedure
  • Participants were told that the study was running
    simultaneously at 10 different universities in
  • In the group condition, the instructions said
    that the study was investigating how well student
    groups at these different universities performed
    the task relative to one another.
  • In the individual condition, the participants
    also were told about these other participating
    universities, but the study was described as
    investigating how well students individually
    performed in such tasks.
  • After receiving this information, participants
    decided whether or not to invest their 4 in the
    group. They were then debriefed, paid, and
    thanked for their efforts.

Experiment I Results
As predicted by the hypothesis, the men
contributed more often in the group condition
than in the individual condition. The overall
percentage of female contributors was lower in
the group condition

Experiment II Participants
  • 93 undergraduate students at the University of
    Southampton participated in this experiment.
  • 46 Men
  • 54 Women

Experiment II Design Procedure
  • The procedures and instructions were essentially
    the same as in the previous experiment, with the
    following exceptions
  • Each group member was given an endowment of 6,
    any amount of which could be invested in the
  • The public good (a bonus of 10 for each member,
    regardless of his or her contribution) was
    provided if the group investments exceeded 24.

Experiment II Results
  • As predicted, men contributed more in the group
    (competitive) condition than in the individual
    condition. For women, there was no difference
    between the group condition and the individual

Experiment III Participants
  • 93 undergraduate students at the University of
  • 53 Men
  • 47 Women

Experiment III Design Procedure
  • Competition manipulation was the same as in the
    previous experiments.
  • The only real difference with this 3rd experiment
    is Participants also answered a post experiment
    questionnaire with five questions about their
    group identification (e.g., I identify with the
    group I am in) responding to each on a scale
    from 1, not at all, to 9, very strongly

Experiment III Results
Women overall contributing more than men with no
real difference between conditions. But men
stayed consistent with contributing more in the
group condition. As predicted Me also Identify
much more with the group than women.
Men Women
Summary of Results
  • Results show that men identify and cooperate more
    with their group under conditions of intergroup
    threat compared to no threat.
  • Womens cooperation is largely unaffected by
    intergroup threat.
  • The researcher believes this supports the
    male-warrior hypothesis.

  • Further research should address various
    implications of the male-warrior hypothesis.
  • People should assign more weight to intergroup
    personality traits such as physical ability,
    fighting prowess, bravery, courage, and heroism
    when evaluating men than when evaluating women.
  • Status in a group and, perhaps, attractiveness as
    a mate should be more strongly associated with
    contributions to intergroup activities for men
    than for women.
  • Men should also generally be more interested than
    women in what might be considered intergroup
    hobbies and professions like playing team sports,
    watching war movies, and joining the military.

  • Women, on average, contributed more to the group
    across 3 experiments
  • Women are not completely insensitive to
    intergroup conflict
  • Male intergroup adaptations and traits are likely
    to be reinforced through cultural processes (ex.
    childhood socialization)
  • Womens social psychology is likely to be shaped
    more strongly by different kinds of needs (ex.
    defending offspring, creating supportive social

  • Limitations intrinsic to experimental
    public-goods research
  • Payoffs in experiments were not substantial
    dont know if men in reality would be willing to
    take huge risks to defend their group
  • Intergroup competition in the experiments was
    merely symbolic and groups were not competing
    with each other for a tangible reward
  • All participants were college students