Monday, September 14, 2009

Being Alpha

I am pretty sure that I have a naturally competitive personality. I have always wondered about the nature/nurture question as it impacts gender identity. Specifically, since there is anatomical proof of structural differences between male and female brains, what of it. Are there traits that are universally female or male?

An interesting study by Gneezy, Leonard, and List (2008) explored the role of culture in determining gender differences in competitive behaviour. They investigated two distinct societies, the Maasai tribe of Tanzania and the Khasi tribe in India. The former is patriarchal while the latter is matrilineal. In the patriarchal society, women were found to be less competitive than men, a result consistent with studies using data from Western cultures. But in the matrilineal society, women were more competitive than men. Indeed, the Khasi women were found to be as competitive as Maasai men. The authors interpret this as evidence that culture has an influence.

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