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Men Just as Cooperative as Women

Both genders likely to choose public good over self-interest, large review finds

SATURDAY, Sept. 24, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- Men are as cooperative as women, a new study suggests.

The finding, which challenges stereotypes of men as less cooperative than women, is the result of an analysis of 272 studies conducted over five decades and comprising almost 32,000 people in 18 countries.

The researchers found that men are equally cooperative as women, particularly in social dilemmas in which the interests of one person conflict with the interests of a group.

The analysis also revealed that men actually cooperate better with other men than women cooperate with other women.

The study appears online in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

In human evolution, "male coalitions have been an effective strategy for men to acquire resources, such as food and property," lead author Daniel Balliet, of the VU University Amsterdam, noted in a journal news release.

"Both hunting and warfare are social dilemmas in that they firmly pit individual and group interests against each other. Yet, if everyone acts upon their immediate self-interest, then no food will be provided, and wars will be lost. To overcome such social dilemmas requires strategies to cooperate with each other," he said.

Evolution may also explain why women are less cooperative with women in social dilemmas that involve a conflict between individual and group interests.

"Ancestral women usually migrated between groups and they would have been interacting mostly with women who tended not to be relatives, and many were co-wives," Balliet said. "Social dynamics among women would have been rife with sexual competition."

More information

Academia.edu provides more information on cooperation by men and women.

Psychological Bulletin, news release, Sept. 22, 2011
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