Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes

Warriors and Worriers: The Survival of the Sexes

by Joyce F. Benenson, Henry Markovits
     
 

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The question of exactly what sex differences exist and whether they have a biological foundation has been one of our culture's favorite enduring discussions. It should. After a baby is born, a parent's first concern is for its physical health. The next concern is its sex. Only in the most modern societies does sex not virtually guarantee the type of future life a

Overview

The question of exactly what sex differences exist and whether they have a biological foundation has been one of our culture's favorite enduring discussions. It should. After a baby is born, a parent's first concern is for its physical health. The next concern is its sex. Only in the most modern societies does sex not virtually guarantee the type of future life a new human being will have. Even in modern societies, one's sex usually plays a large role in the path a life follows.

Scientists have published thousands of papers on the subject, with the general conclusion being that men and women are mostly the same, whatever differences exist have been socialized, and what differences exist have to do with women bearing children and men being physically stronger. In Warriors and Worriers, psychologist Joyce Benenson presents a new theory of sex differences, based on thirty years of research with young children and primates around the world. Her innovative theory focuses on how men and women stay alive. Benenson draws on a fascinating array of studies and stories that explore the ways boys and men deter their enemies, while girls and women find assistants to aid them in coping with vulnerable children and elders. This produces two social worlds for each sex which sets humans apart from most other primate species. Human males form cooperative groups that compete against out-groups, while human females exclude other females in their quest to find mates, female family members to invest in their children, and keep their own hearts ticking. In the process, Benenson turns upside down the familiar wisdom that women are more sociable than men and that men are more competitive than women.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
In this specialized book, developmental psychologist Benenson jumps into the longstanding debate concerning nature vs. nurture in the sexes to offer a theory of her own. Drawing on personal research and observations, Benenson argues that men inherently possess the traits of "warriors"—those who are genetically prepared for warfare as a means of survival—while women are natural "worriers," and have been genetically programmed during evolution to place their own (as well as their family's) wellbeing above all else in order to survive. While Benenson's basic thesis isn't particularly progressive, she does manage to add weight to her theory by raising a number of interesting points regarding male and female behavior. Unfortunately, societal influence is not addressed here as much as one would expect and when it is, the authors do so on unsatisfying terms. While well-researched, Benenson's book doesn't provide citations to support her generalizations, rendering aspects of her arguments unconvincing. Best suited for other scientists within the field, Benenson's study will not likely offer much to laymen and women who will be hard-pressed to determine whether or not her arguments are of substance. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Brave, thoroughly documented, and written with unusual clarity, Warriors and Worriers
explains more about the fundamentals of gender differences - and the meaning of human nature - than a library of conventional social science." — E. O. Wilson, University Research Professor Emeritus, Harvard University

"Warriors and Worriers is a fascinating look at male-female differences through a sociobiological lens. Benenson's thought-provoking analysis considers a wide range of influences - biological, psychological and sociological - that illuminate the developmental forces shaping males into warriors and females into worriers. The book is a lively read nicely balancing scholarly evidence and insight with intriguing anecdotal speculation.
Everyone may not agree with Benenson's conclusions, but I imagine all will find them provocative." — Donald J. Campbell, Professor of Management & Leadership, United States Military Academy

"We have been lead to believe that girls are empathetic creatures who value female friendship above all else and that boys are competitive beasts unable to form deep and lasting bonds with other males. In Warriors and Worriers, Benenson and Markovits formidably demonstrate that girls are, in fact, designed by evolution to compete with each other for reproductive resources while boys are designed to form tightly knit and forgiving groups to defend collectively their reproductive assets. We have ignored this truth that we see every day in play groups, at schools, in board rooms, and at faculty meetings. But now we have Warriors and Worriers to explain in conversational language what made life so hard as teenagers and what haunts us as adults - that girls and women are really the competitive ones while boys and men are actually very good at being social. What an amazing paradigm shift, and one that makes so much sense." — Meredith Small, Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University

"We all know men and women are different. In Warriors and Worriers, Joyce Benenson tells us the ultimate reason why they are. Men and women have evolved and developed different psychologies, men to identify enemies and defend against them and women to care for and worry about their children. In this highly readable and authoritative book,
Benenson shows how biology and environment interact over the life span to produce male and female minds and why — not just how — men and women are different. This is an important book for anyone interested in sex differences, and admit it, we all are." — David F. Bjorklund, Professor of Psychology, Florida Atlantic University

"Benenson (psychology, Emmanuel Coll.) argues for innate behavioral differences between men and women. She organizes these differences under two umbrella categories called warriors and worriers. Benenson suggests that these demeanors contribute to our survival and have over time become encoded in our genes. Benenson fuels the debate on whether gender differences in behavior are constructed or biological. Her argument is based upon observations of early childhood across cultures as well as primate studies. The critiques appear universal, and Benenson, working within the school of evolutionary psychology, provides a possible explanation. Recommended for readers interested in gender studies.
-Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Library Journal

"Warriors and Worriers covers a fascinating array of research studies for interested readers to follow up on. The book is accessible and discussion-provoking — well suited for undergraduate courses, or for anyone looking for an alternative (yet complementary)
point of view to the usual stance on the evolution of human sex differences." —Kristin Liv Rauch, The Quarterly Review of Biology

Library Journal
02/15/2014
Benenson (psychology, Emmanuel Coll.) argues for innate behavioral differences between men and women. She organizes these differences under two umbrella categories called warriors and worriers. Benenson suggests that these demeanors contribute to our survival and have over time become encoded in our genes. For men, these manners entail an attraction to groups and competition, including early behaviors for play fighting, group sports, and a propensity to identify enemies. For women, successful behaviors are about building relationships foremost with kin, particularly with their mothers, but also with the fathers of their children. These relationships, when triumphant, assist women in providing care for themselves and their children. Thus warriors refers to the often martial or competitive projection against external entities, whereas worriers references women's desire to nurture and protect the carriers of their genes—their children. VERDICT Benenson fuels the debate on whether gender differences in behavior are constructed or biological. Her argument is based upon observations of early childhood across cultures as well as primate studies. The critiques appear universal, and Benenson, working within the school of evolutionary psychology, provides a possible explanation. Recommended for readers interested in gender studies.—Scott Vieira, Sam Houston State Univ. Lib., Huntsville, TX

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199972234
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
02/05/2014
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
344,129
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Professor of Psychology, Emmanuel College

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