Baumeister & Tice Chapter 4

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Baumeister & Tice Chapter 4

The Nature & Culture of Sexuality

Nature v. Nurture

  • Essentialists v. Social constructivists

  • Moral & legal implications

  • Excuses, no responsibility

  • Punishment (unfair & futile, rehabilitation & deterrent?)

  • Decision rule

  • No cultural variation = nature

  • Cultural variation = nurture

Cultural Influences

  • Taliban

  • Western world

  • Sex on TV, nude beaches & pornography

  • Variation (porn illegal in some states)

  • Impacts strongly on morals, attitudes, preferences & choices

Morris (1996)

  • Female circumcision or female genital mutilation (FGM)

  • Ancient practice from all continents

  • Greek papyrus from 163 BC references FGM

  • Decreed by no religion (some think it is)

  • 5% in Uganda & Zaire

  • 98% in Somali

  • 6,000 girls/day

Morris (1996)

3 types of FGM (done at 4-8 years of age)

  • Type I: Excision of clitoral hood (leaves clitoris intact)

  • Type II: Clitoridectomy involving removal of clitoris and portions of labia minoria

  • Type III: Infibulation involving removal of clitoris and portions of labia majora/minor & vulva stitched together

Morris (1996)

Attitudes towards FGM

  • Onadeko (1985) Nigerian women (N = 453)

  • 67% in favor

  • 64.3% of 28 men not in favor

  • Numerous other studies find similar results

  • Somalian refugees in US favor FGM

Morris (1996)

Reasons for

  • Culture

  • Tradition

  • Ensures virginity & marriage w/ large dowry

  • Ensure fidelity

Reasons against

  • Barbaric tradition

  • Violates human rights

  • Child abuse

  • Health problems

Widmer et al. (1998)

  • Examined sexual attitudes in 24 countries

  • Sex before marriage

  • Sex before age 16

  • Extramarital sex

  • Homosexual sex

  • Asked if these types of sex were

  • Always wrong

  • Almost always wrong

  • Only sometimes wrong

  • Not at all wrong

Widmer et al. (1998)

  • Premarital sex, sex before 16 & extramarital sex showed large agreement across countries

  • Most (61%) view premarital sex ‘not wrong at all’

  • Most (58%) view sex before 16 as ‘always wrong’

  • Most (66%) view extramarital sex as ‘always wrong’

  • USA 80%

  • Substantial variation on homosexual sex

  • 59% overall said ‘always wrong’

  • Hungary 83%, USA 70%, Bulgaria 80%

  • 24% overall said ‘not wrong at all’

  • Netherlends 65%, Canada 46%, Slovenia 42%

Widmer et al. (1998)

  • 4 clusters of countries identified (see article)

  • Cluster 2. Sexual conservatives

  • USA, Ireland, Poland

  • Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Canada, Czech Republic

Widmer et al. (1998)

  • Important data because it provides way to test nature v. cultural explanations

  • Netherlands (65% homosexuality not wrong at all)

  • Rate of homosexuality higher than less permissive countries suggests cultural influence

  • Desirability bias absent (likely to tell truth in permissive culture)

  • Same rate supports nature (& validates earlier data)

Class Data 03 (N = 102, Female = 73)

Wrong?

Always Almost Sometime Not at all

Pre 11.7% 9.7% 35% 43.7%

< 16 36/71 32 28 3.9

Extra 81/80 11.9 4 3

Homo 19.4/70 8.7 19.4 52.4/19

Bold = Widmer USA data

Why the difference?

Widmer et al. (1998)

  • Extramarital affairs estimated at 50%

  • 80% Americans view this as ‘always wrong’

  • Why?

Attitudes

  • Attitudes contain 3 components:

  • Cognitions, beliefs (cheating is wrong!)

  • Emotions (Anger, disgust)

  • Behavior tendencies (I intend never to cheat)

  • Attitudes can predict behavior: No cheating!

  • Not always...

Attitudes

  • Attitudes don’t predict behavior when

  • Components inconsistent (cognition v emotion)

  • Believe pornography is wrong but feel excited

  • Levels of analysis mixed (broad-> specific)

  • Sex is good (broad) v. masturbating to Victoria Secret

  • Norms/Vested interest

  • Desirability bias impacts Rs (homosexuality)

  • Gain by behaving in ways inconsistent with attitudes

Reaction Paper II: Cultural Morality

  • Upon learning of the great variability in sexual attitudes across cultures many take a moral absolutist stance, arguing that cultures that disagree with our own are simply morally WRONG. Do you take this view with regards to sexual behaviors like homosexuality? Or do you take a moral relativistic stance, believing that moral absolutes don’t exist & each culture defines what is and is not right for them? Explain your position.

Nature Influences

  • Hormones prenatally impact brain development & sexual behavior later in life

Nature Influences

  • Sex Hormones (androgens) impact sexual behavior

  • Erotica increases T levels

  • T +rd w/ sexual behaviors, attitudes

  • Sex offenders treated by chemically reducing T & erectile dysfunction by increasing T

  • Follicular stage of menstrual cycle +rd w/ arousal

Nature Influences

  • Sex on the brain video

  • How did early exposure to testosterone impact female rat behavior?

  • How did early exposure to estrogen impact male rat behavior?

  • Can this happen with humans?

  • YEP!

Nature Influences

  • Kamasutra, medieval times, 2002

  • We have been doing same things for millennia

  • Love & jealousy - ubiquitous in human culture

  • Female infidelity more condemned

  • Nature impacts sexual development & behavior

Nature Influences

  • Jealousy (expect no cultural variation)

  • Males: Sexual

  • Females: Emotional

  • Why?

  • Evolutionary pressures

  • Males have uncertainty of paternity

  • Males preventing sexual infidelity pass > genes

  • Males > power in all known societies

Statistical Significance

  • p = significance level (how likely difference would occur if TRUE, population difference = 0.0)

  • < .05 traditional significance level (1/20)

  • 2/1000 if true difference = 0.0

  • Assume difference is real

Class Data 03 (N = 102, Female = 73)

  • Upset over partner having sex with another?

Mean

  • Male 4.76

  • Female 4.76 t(101) < 1, ns

  • Upset over partner falling in love with another?

Mean

  • Male 3.72

  • Female 4.31 t(101) = 3.01, p < .003

Nature Influences

  • Promiscuity

  • Men more interested in causal sex

  • Women want to know their partner longer

Class Data 03 (N = 102, Female = 73)

  • Frequency of viewing & purchasing pornography/year

  • Item Male Female t p

VIDEOFREQ 45.39 4.05 4.38 .000

BOOKFREQ 80.44 12.43 2.99 .01

BUYFREQ 2.39 .41 2.95 .004

Nature Influences

  • Evolutionary theory is a biological account

  • Connections between humans, mammals, primates

  • Emphasizes biological processes like reproduction

  • Evolution theory is a functional account

  • Behaviors, characteristics that served an adaptive function were passed on via natural selection

  • Many present day behaviors evolutionary artifacts

  • Not necessarily conscious, willful behavior

  • Distal not proximal cause

Nature & Culture

  • Guttentag & Secord (1983)

  • Culture changes as a result of ratio of males:females

  • Sexual morality reflects minority gender

  • Male surplus/female scarcity = women highly valued & sexually restrictive/prudish morals

  • Female surplus/male scarcity = women devalued & sexually permissive morals

  • Why?

Guttentag & Secord (1983)

  • Supply & demand: Scarcity confers power

  • Women/men are precious, valuable and powerful when rare

  • Suggests that:

  • Men desire promiscuous, commitment free sex

  • Women desire stable, committed relationships

Conclusion

  • Nature impacts development, behaviors

  • Nurture/culture impacts attitudes, morals

  • Combine to impact all aspects of sexuality



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