International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 1019–1035 | Cite as

Human Sexual Differences in the Use of Social Ostracism as a Competitive Tactic

  • Joyce F. Benenson
  • Lindsay Hodgson
  • Sarah Heath
  • Patrick J. Welch
Article

Abstract

An aspect of social systems that is similar between chimpanzees and humans is that males form larger groups than females do. Both chimpanzee and human studies suggest that large groups are costlier for females than for males, so females attempt to reduce group size. Social ostracism of female group members occurs in both species and may serve as a mechanism for group size reduction. We formed groups of female and male children to examine directly whether human females would be more likely than males to employ social ostracism. We asked 7 female and 7 male groups of 10-yr-old children to compose and perform a play about a topic of interest to them. Female groups engaged in social ostracism more than male groups did. Further, within female groups, cortisol levels remained higher for female perpetrators of social ostracism than for their victims, suggesting that social ostracism is costly. In contrast, more frequent 1:1 conflictual behavior occurred in male than in female groups, but cortisol was unrelated to frequencies of 1:1 conflicts. Our results support the theory that human females find groups aversive and seek to reduce their size via social ostracism. Coalitions minimize the risk of retaliation but may induce costs.

Keywords

coalitionary exclusion groups sex differences social structure 

References

  1. Abbott, D. H., Keverne, E. B., Bercovitch, F. B., Shively, C. A., Mendoza, S. P., Saltzman, W., et al. (2003). Are subordinates always stressed? A comparative analysis of rank differences in cortisol levels among primates. Hormones and Behavior, 43, 67–82. doi:10.1016/S0018–506X(02)00037–5.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahlgren, A., & Johnson, D. W. (1979). Sex differences in cooperative and competitive attitudes from the 2nd through the 12th grades. Developmental Psychology, 15, 45–49. doi:10.1037/h0078076.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baillargeon, R. H., Zoccolillo, M., Kennan, K., Cote, S., Perusse, D., Wu, H., et al. (2007). Gender differences in physical aggression: A prospective population-based survey of children before and after two years of age. Developmental Psychology, 43, 13–26. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.43.1.13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, K. C., & Smuts, B. B. (1994). Social relationships of female chimpanzees: Diversity between captive social groups. In R. W. Wrangham, W. C. McGrew, F. B. M. de Waal, & P. G. Heltne (Eds.), Chimpanzee Cultures (pp. 227–242). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bales, R. F., & Borgatta, E. F. (1955). Size of group as a factor in the interaction profile. In A. P. Hare, E. F. Borgatta, & R. F. Bales (Eds.), Small Groups: Studies in Social Interaction (pp. 495–512). Toronto: Random House.Google Scholar
  6. Belle, D. (Ed.).(1989). Children’s Social Networks and Social Supports. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  7. Bem, S. L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 42, 155–162. doi:10.1037/h0036215.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Benenson, J. F., Apostoleris, N. H., & Parnass, J. (1997). Age and sex differences in dyadic and group interaction. Developmental Psychology, 33, 538–543. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.33.3.538.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benenson, J. F., Duggan, V., & Markovits, H. (2004). Sex differences in infants’ attraction to group versus individual stimuli. Infant Behavior and Development, 27, 173–180. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2003.09.008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Benenson, J. F., & Heath, A. (2006). Boys withdraw more in one-on-one interactions whereas girls withdraw more in groups. Developmental Psychology, 42, 272–282. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.42.2.272.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Benenson, J. F., Markovits, H., Muller, I., Challen, A., & Carder, H. P. (2007). Explaining sex differences in infants’ preferences for groups. Infant Behavior and Development, 30, 587–595. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2007.03.010.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Benenson, J. F., Roy, R., Waite, A., Goldbaum, S., Linders, L., & Simpson, A. (2002). Greater discomfort as a proximate cause of sex differences in competition. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 48, 225–247. doi:10.1353/mpq.2002.0010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Boesch, C., & Boesch-Achermann, H. (2000). The Chimpanzees of the Tai Forest. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Cairns, R., Xie, H., & Leung, M. (1998). The popularity of friendship and the neglect of social networks: Toward a new balance. In W. M. Bukowski, & A. H. Cillessen (Eds.), Sociometry Then and Now: Building on Six Decades of Measuring Children's Experiences with the Peer Group (pp. 25–54). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  15. Campbell, A. (1999). Staying Alive: Evolution, culture, and women's intra-sexual aggression. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 203–252.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Campbell, A. (2004). Female competition: Causes, constraints, content, and contexts. Journal of Sex Research, 41, 16–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chapais, B. (1996). Competing through cooperation in nonhuman primates: Developmental aspects of matrilineal dominance. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 19, 7–24. doi:10.1080/016502596385901.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crick, N. R. (1995). Relational aggression: The role of intent attributions, feelings of distress, and provocation type. Development and Psychopathology, 7, 313–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710–722. doi:10.2307/1131945.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J. K. (1996). Children’s treatment by peers: Victims of relational and overt aggression. Development and Psychopathology, 8, 367–380.Google Scholar
  21. Daly, M., & Wilson, M. (1999). Darwinism and the roots of machismo. Scientific American, 10, 8–15.Google Scholar
  22. de Waal, F. B. M. (1982). Chimpanzee Politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Dickerson, S. S., & Kemeny, M. E. (2004). Acute stressors and cortisol responses: A theoretical integration and synthesis of laboratory research. Psychological Bulletin, 130, 355–391. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.130.3.355.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Eder, D., & Hallinan, M. (1978). Sex differences in children’s friendships. American Sociological Review, 43, 237–250. doi:10.2307/2094701.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Feshbach, N. D. (1969). Sex differences in children's modes of aggressive responses toward outsiders. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 15, 249–258.Google Scholar
  26. Feshbach, N., & Sones, G. (1971). Sex differences in adolescent reactions toward newcomers. Developmental Psychology, 4, 381–386. doi:10.1037/h0030986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fine, G. A. (1980). The natural history of preadolescent male friendship groups. In H. C. Foot, A. J. Chapman, & J. R. Smith (Eds.), Friendship and Social Relations in Children (pp. 293–320). New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  28. Freedman, D. G. (1974). Human Infancy. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  29. Goodall, J. (1986). The Chimpanzees of Gombe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Groschl, M., Rauh, M., & Helmuth-Gunther, D. (2003). Circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol, 17alpha-hydroxyprogesterone, and progesterone in healthy children. Clinical Chemistry, 49, 1688–1691. doi:10.1373/49.10.1688.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Gunnar, M. R., & Vazquez, D. M. (2001). Low cortisol and a flattening of expected daytime rhythm: Potential indices of risk in human development. Development and Psychopathology, 13, 515–538. doi:10.1017/S0954579401003066.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Leaper, C., & Holliday, H. (1995). Gossip in same-gender and cross-gender friends’ conversations. Personal Relationships, 2, 237–246. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.1995.tb00089.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Maccoby, E. E., & Jacklin, C. N. (1974). The Psychology of Sex Differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Markovits, H., Benenson, J., & Dolenszky, E. (2001). Evidence that children and adolescents have internal models of peer interactions that are gender differentiated. Child Development, 72, 879–886. doi:10.1111/1467-8624.00321.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Markovits, H., Benenson, J. F., & White, S. (2006). Gender and gender priming: Differences in speed of processing of information relating to dyadic and group contexts. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42, 662–667. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2005.09.003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Mitani, J. C., Watts, D. P., & Lwanga, J. S. (2002). Ecological and social correlates of chimpanzee party size and composition. In C. Boesch, G. Hohmann, & L. F. Marchant (Eds.), Behavioral Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos (pp. 102–111). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Nishida, T. (1989). Social conflicts between resident and immigrant females. In P. G. Heltne, & L. A. Marquardt (Eds.), Understanding Chimpanzees (pp. 68–89). Cambridge, UK: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Nishida, T. (1990). A quarter century of research in the Mahale mountains: An overview. In T. Nishida (Ed.), The Chimpanzees of the Mahale Mountains (pp. 3–35). Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.Google Scholar
  39. Owens, L., Shute, R., & Slee, P. (2000). “Guess what I just heard!” Indirect aggression among teenage girls in Australia. Aggressive Behavior, 26, 67–83. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-2337(2000)26:1<67::AID-AB6>3.0.CO;2-C.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pusey, A. E. (1980). Inbreeding avoidance in chimpanzees. Animal Behaviour, 28, 543–552. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(80)80063-7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Pusey, A., & Packer, C. (1987). Dispersal and philopatry. In B. B. Smuts, D. L. Cheney, R. M. Seyfarth, R. W. Wrangham, & T. T. Struhsaker (Eds.), Primate Societies (pp. 250–266). Chicago: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Rodseth, R., Wrangham, R. W., Harrigan, A. M., & Smuts, B. B. (1991). The human community as a primate society. Current Anthropology, 32, 221–254. doi:10.1086/203952.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sapolsky, R. M. (1993). The physiology of dominance in stable versus unstable social hierarchies. In W. A. Mason, & S. P. Mendoza (Eds.), Primate Social Conflict (pp. 171–204). New York: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  44. Savin-Williams, R. C. (1980). Social interactions of adolescent females in natural groups. In H. C. Foot, A. J. Chapman, & J. R. Smith (Eds.), Friendship and Social Relations in Children (pp. 343–364). New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  45. Schlegel, A., & Barry, H. III (1991). Adolescence: An Anthropological Inquiry. The Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  46. Seeley, E. A., Gardner, W. L., Pennington, G., & Gabriel, S. (2003). Circle of friends or members of a group? Sex differences in relational and collective attachment to groups. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 6, 251–263. doi:10.1177/13684302030063003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Simmons, R. (2002). Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  48. Talge, N. M., Donzella, B., Kryzer, E. M., Gierens, A., & Gunnar, M. R. (2005). It’s not that bad: error introduced by oral stimulants in salivary cortisol research. Developmental Psychobiology, 47, 369–376. doi:10.1002/dev.20097.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tiger, L. (1969). Men in Groups. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  50. Townsend, S. W., Slocombe, K. E., Thompson, M. E., & Zuberbuhler, K. (2007). Female-led infanticide in wild chimpanzees. Current Biology, 17, R355–R356. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2007.03.020.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Trivers, R. (1972). Parental investment and sexual selection. In B. Campbell (Ed.), Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man (pp. 136–179). Chicago: Aldine.Google Scholar
  52. Watts, D. P. (1998). Coalitionary mate guarding by male chimpanzees at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 44, 43–55. doi:10.1007/s002650050513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Watts, D. P. (2004). Intracommunity coalitionary killing of an adult male chimpanzee at Ngogo, Kibale National Park, Uganda. International Journal of Primatology, 25, 507–521. doi:10.1023/B:IJOP.0000023573.56625.59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Williams, J. M., Liu, H., & Pusey, A. E. (2002). Costs and benefits of grouping for female chimpanzees at Gombe. In C. Boesch, G. Hohmann, & L. F. Marchant (Eds.), Behavioral Diversity in Chimpanzees and Bonobos (pp. 192–203). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Wrangham, R. W. (1986). Ecology and social relationships in two species of chimpanzee. In D. I. Rubenstein, & R. W. Wrangahm (Eds.), Ecology and Social Evolution: Birds and Mammals (pp. 352–378). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Wrangham, R. (1999). Evolution of coalitionary killing. Yearbook of Physical Anthropology, 42, 1–30. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-8644(1999)110:29+<1::AID-AJPA2>3.0.CO;2-E.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wrangham, R. W. (2000). Why are male chimpanzees more gregarious than mothers? A scramble competition hypothesis. In P. M. Kappeler (Ed.), Primate Males (pp. 248–258). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  58. Wrangham, R. W., Clark, A. P., & Isabirye-Basuta, G. (1992). Female social relationships and social organization of Kibale Forest chimpanzees. In T. Nishida, W. C. McGrew, P. Marler, M. Pickford, & F. B. M. de Waal (Eds.), Topics in Primatology, Vol. 1: Human Origins (pp. 81–98). Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press.Google Scholar
  59. Wrangham, R. W., & Smuts, B. B. (1980). Sex differences in the behavioral ecology of chimpanzees in the Gombe National Park, Tanzania. Journal of Reproduction and Fertility, (Supplement 28), 13–31.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce F. Benenson
    • 1
  • Lindsay Hodgson
    • 2
  • Sarah Heath
    • 2
  • Patrick J. Welch
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyEmmanuel CollegeBostonUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Faculty of ScienceUniversity of PlymouthPlymouthUK

Personalised recommendations