The gender of one’s descendants appears to be an important predictor of sociopolitical attitudes
Many people have strong views about sex, reproductive rights, and gender roles, and these seem to differ across demographics such as gender, age, and socioeconomic status. A study published in Evolutionary humanities suggests that having more male offspring of childbearing age may also have an important effect, particularly in increasing conservative views.
Conservative views on sex and reproduction largely limit women‘s freedom, such as anti-abortion. These views are mostly held by men for their own benefit. It is also proven that people want the best for their children. Parents of daughters tend to be more supportive of feminism and gender equality than parents of only sons.
This aligns with the idea of gendered fitness interests (GFI), which says that an individual’s genetic fitness is due to the reproductive success of their living relatives. Gender-related fitness interests have been shown to predict social attitudes in previous research, but not for opinions on gender issues and conservatism, which is what this study seeks to do.
Nicholas Kerry and his colleagues used 560 participants recruited by MTurk, aged 18 to 72. Gendered fitness interest values were calculated for each participant, taking into account their age and the ages of all their children, grandchildren, and siblings. Participants also declared cousins and nieces/nephews, but ages were assumed. Additionally, participants completed measures on gender conservatism, compliance, and voting habits.
The results showed that, as hypothesized, participants with a male-biased GFI held more conservative attitudes about gender-related topics. This was relevant to both their own gender and the gender of their descendants, suggesting that their own interests and the interests of their offspring guide their opinions. Results were not significant for non-descendant relatives, such as siblings or cousins.
GFI was also linked to conformity and association with a political party, but both relationships were mediated by gender conservatism. Male-biased GFI was also related to conformity to traditional gender roles, which is consistent because of traditional gender roles that benefit men. Taken together, these results underscore that gender is a variable in decision-making, not just for oneself but for one’s offspring.
This study has made progress in understanding the more nuanced and complex relationships between gender and conservatism. Despite this, it has limits. The ages of close relatives were measured in groups, rather than as individual whole numbers, which could reduce accuracy. Also, for nieces/nephews and cousins, the age was approximated based on the age of the participants, which is not always relevant or accurate.
“The data here suggest that the GFI is a stronger and more robust predictor of gender-conservative attitudes than previous measures, and that the GFI may influence more general attitudes related to conformity,” the researchers concluded. “Although further research is needed to better understand the nature of the causal relationships and the mechanisms involved, the results presented here suggest that just as one’s own gender is a predictor of sociopolitical attitudes, so is the gender of one’s descendants. .”
The study, “Male Descendants Promote Conservative Views on Gender Issues and Conformity to Traditional Norms,” was authored by Nicholas Kerry, Khandis R. Blake, Damian R. Murray, and Robert C. Brooks.