Re: Gender differences

Kathy Petrie (
27 Apr 1995 14:26:36 GMT

Gerold Firl ( wrote:
: I think it is fair to say that socialization plays a part in the formation
: of all human behaviors, but to deny the role of instinct is delusion.

: Consider the propensity to play with dolls seen among girls. Girls are
: encouraged to play with dolls, of course, and that is cultural. But when I
: see a juvenile baboon female who manages to get ahold of an infant, I see a
: behavior which is clearly instinctive, and instantly recognizible as
: related to behavior in our own species.

Have Harry Harlow's studies been discredited? If memory of my
primatology course 19 years ago is holding firm, he removed rhesus monkeys
at birth to raise them in complete isolation -- the intent being to
identify what might be instinct and what might be learned behavior.
Female rhesus monkeys so raised had no idea what their babies were (both
sexes had to be taught to have intercourse as well), and exhibited no
mothering behavior towards them whatsoever.

If this study is still considered valid, it argues strongly that your
example is *not* clearly instinctive, but learned behavior.

(Speaking anecdotally, as a former girl, I had no inclination or interest
in dolls and babies despite all the cultural cues and encouragement
American society could heap on in the 1950s and 60s. So much for instinct