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date: 23 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Male and female fetuses differ not only chromosomally but also hormonally. In addition, the postnatal social environment differs for boys and girls, as well as for men and women. Genes, hormones, socialization, and cognitive development combine to produce different behavior between the average male and female, as well as individual differences in sex-linked behaviors within each sex. This chapter reviews evidence regarding the specific influences of each type of factor on core gender identity and sexual orientation; cognitive abilities, such as spatial, mathematical, and verbal abilities; and childhood sex-typed behaviors (toy, activity, and playmate preferences). Conclusions suggest that both nature and nurture contribute to behavioral sex differences, although the degree to which each type of factor is important appears to vary for different endpoints, at least in the population groups studied to date. For instance, inborn factors appear to be particularly important for sex-typical toy preferences, whereas social and cultural influences appear to play a large role in sex differences in mathematics performance.

Keywords: sex, gender, difference, human, hormones, play, toy, cognitive, sexual orientation, gender identity

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