Sex Differences in Other Social Behaviors
In Chapters 2 and 3, a theory based on social roles and the methods of quantitative reviewing were applied to research on sex differences in helping behavior and aggressive behavior. The findings of these two reviews have implications that are worth exploring in relation to other social behaviors. In general, these reviews suggested that quantitative methods produce descriptions of sex differences that differ in substance from the descriptions typically produced by traditional, narrative methods. For sex differences in helping behavior, quantitative methods revealed a different verdict for the overall trend than narrative reviewers had offered. For aggression and especially for helping, quantitative methods indicated considerable variability of the sex differences across studies. Although prior reviewers were not unaware of inconsistencies, this heterogeneity of research findings was documented in the meta-analyses by a statistically appropriate method and followed by systematic testing of hypotheses about the sources of these inconsistencies. As the outcome of this process of testing hypotheses, sex-difference findings were shown to be related to several variables suggested by the social-role theory of sex differences. However, despite these interesting findings, these reviews did not necessarily yield valid general conclusions about the relative helpfulness or aggressiveness of women and men. Reservations about validity, which are considered more fully in Chapter 5, stem from psychologists' tendency to investigate relatively narrow sets of helpful and aggressive behaviors, pertaining to giving help and causing harm in brief encounters with strangers.
In this chapter, I discuss the extent to which similar descriptions are appropriate for research findings on other social behaviors. I confine this discussion to behaviors that have been examined using the methods of