UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Genetic attributions and gender differences the effect of scientific theories and evaluations of sexual behaviors Dar Nimrod, Ilan


Much scientific and media attention has been devoted to the growing body of research into the genetic correlates of human phenomena. However, many of the resulting reports lead to a deterministic interpretation of the role of genes, and involve fundamental misunderstandings of genetics and heredity. Hence, questions arise regarding the ways in which people make sense of the behavioural genetics research they encounter in everyday life. Furthermore, essentialist accounts are often embedded within popular understanding of politically sensitive topics, such as eugenics, race, and sex, and therefore it is important to examine how people comprehend genetic influences on behaviour. In this dissertation, I review current findings regarding the effects of genetic attributions on beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours in the context of the social world. Particular attention is paid to such effects in the context of gender issues. Specifically, in three studies I examine the effects of exposure to scientific theories concerning human sexuality on attitudes towards and evaluations of men’s dubious sexual behaviors. The results indicate that among men exposure to evolutionary psychology arguments leads to more lenient evaluations and judgments of an array of dubious sexual behaviors, compared with exposure to social constructivist arguments. It also seems that men implicitly hold nativist perceptions with regards to male sexuality and promiscuity. The findings were less conclusive among women, with some indication that women are less affected by such exposure as well as less likely to naturally hold a nativist perspective in the context of human sexuality. This empirical research has direct implications for previously suggested intervention programs and adds to the incurrent resurgence of interest in the effects of genetic theories. Finally, I identify areas where further exploration is needed, suggest potential solutions for specific problems, and evaluate related individual and social implications.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International