No strong evidence for universal gender differences in the development of cooperative behaviour across societies

Bailey House*, Joan B. Silk, Katherine McAuliffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human cooperation varies both across and within societies, and developmental studies can inform our understanding of the sources of both kinds of variation. One key candidate for explaining within-society variation in cooperative behaviour is gender, but we know little about whether gender differences in cooperation take root early in ontogeny or emerge similarly across diverse societies. Here, we explore two existing cross-cultural datasets of 4- to 15-year-old children's preferences for equality in experimental tasks measuring prosociality (14 societies) and fairness (seven societies), and we look for evidence of (i) widespread gender differences in the development of cooperation, and (ii) substantial societal variation in gender differences. This cross-cultural approach is crucial for revealing universal human gender differences in the development of cooperation, and it helps answer recent calls for greater cultural …
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1868
Early online date28 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2023

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