What are men good for?

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I came across an interesting 2007 talk that social psychologist Roy Baumeister gave to the American Psychological Association, “Is There Anything Good About Men?” He informally reviews the literature on sex differences in ability and motivation. Some of it will be old news for readers, such as the discussion of Larry Summers, but there’s quite a lot that will not. Some interesting tidbits:

- Most people in the West now believe that women possess more desirable qualities than men do. (Agreed — I only interact with males as colleagues, keeping all of my friends female.)

- Women are more likely than men to commit violence against an intimate partner.

- About 80% of those who work 50-hour weeks are men.

- 93% of those killed on the job in the US are men.

- Men appear more oriented toward large-scale social groups where relationships are shallow but many, women toward small-scale groups where they are deep but few. Baumeister suggests that this is a key source of male-female inequality after the transition to agriculture: men were more suited to the large-scale networks that came to run social, political, and economic life.

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8 Comments

  1. What took you so long? I posted links to that paper in the open thread and elsewhere on this blog a long time ago.

  2. 93% of those killed on the job in the US are men 
     
    But then, more than 90% of the people in startup, especially in technical areas, are male as well. 
     
    Also, an important concept that you have not pointed out is that there seems to be good evidence that something like half of all men never pass on their genes.

  3. What took you so long? I posted links to that paper in the open thread and elsewhere on this blog a long time ago. 
     
    I know it’s hard to believe, but I don’t actually read every comment left here. Indeed, I avoid reading the comments altogether, including the open thread, unless it’s one of my posts where I can answer questions. 
     
    I used to read the comments, but figured out that most didn’t contribute much. Maybe I miss a value-adding comment now and again, but that’s got to be rare.

  4. Also, an important concept that you have not pointed out is that there seems to be good evidence that something like half of all men never pass on their genes. 
     
    Dude, this isn’t even at the level of telling your professor that he wrote a plus instead of a minus by mistake. I have not pointed out that important concept because I figured the readers could read it on their own via the link I provided, and conceived of a list of tidbits as just that, not a review of every interesting thing in the talk.

  5. Men appear more oriented toward large-scale social groups where relationships are shallow but many, women toward small-scale groups where they are deep but few. Baumeister suggests that this is a key source of male-female inequality after the transition to agriculture: men were more suited to the large-scale networks that came to run social, political, and economic life. 
     
    i posted this in 2006, why patriarchy
    As mass societies arose 10,000 years ago, finally bearing fruit in Sumer, the precursor to civilization as such, a scaffolding of institutional religions, rules and regulations arose, and I believe that all these benefited male peer groups. Even though heuristics and codes of conduct of males are clumsier and less flexibile than the intuitive social intelligence which was more a suit of female social groups, the latter by their nature could not scale beyond the clan or village, and so heuristics and codes of conduct became the framework for mass society and these are waters that males are more equipped to navigate.

  6. The one case I can think of where men will form “small-scale [social] groups where they are deep but few” is family. This is especially binding if the family is alienated from the culture at large, such as the Mafia. Steve Sailer has noted a number of such groups on his blog. 
     
    How come female networks haven’t spawned more criminal enterprises?

  7. Men are much better at some tasks, either in groups or not, that don’t get done or done well if the ‘moral climate’, for want of a better description, is more conducive to success if plain old screwing up is considered a ‘sin’. 
     
    One can see that men are more likely to get killed on the job because jobs where one can get killed are ones where screwing up is a sin punishable by death. Men are far more OK with that than women and are far more likely to take such jobs. 
     
    One can generalize this, to men viewing reward and punishment based on naked success or failure, without any regard to if one’s heart is in the right place, as far more in tune with their sense of justice than women do, women don’t agree with that at all. 
     
    I’d think that this is adaptive too, I’d hate to be the two year old of a woman who didn’t think like a woman in this regard, such a two year old would be pretty miserable, if alive at all. 
     
    Of all the ‘men and women are interchangable’ stuff that is currently in the zeitgeist, that boys and girls aren’t any different has dropped out, since it’s so at variance with reality. The ‘Mom and Dad are interchangable parents’ is still sort of current, and I’d think that’s got to go at some point too. Obviously the two ways of looking at such things are more efficacious depending on how old the kid is. I’d think such things work best when Mom is in charge of the toddlers and Dad is in charge of the older ones, but the zeitgeist isn’t anywhere near that yet, but if one assumes that the zeitgeist can ignore reality only so long, it will be (back) there someday.

  8. [Retarded readers. Seriously, we should moderate comments here, lest our blog go the way of Half-Sigma and Dienekes. Great blogs btw, just not the comments.]

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