Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Women’s Prosocial Dominant Acts

  • Zachary H. GarfieldAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington State University Email author 
  • , Melissa J. GarfieldAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Washington State University


Female strategies; Prosociality; Social hierarchy; Social status


Females display a sex-specific pattern of expressions of dominance, which is a universal feature of human psychology.


Dominance is a common strategy for achieving social influence across social species, including among humans. Dominance can be defined as the use of aggression, threats, fear, and intimidation to attain and maintain disproportionate levels of influence within a social group (Barkow 1989), and evidence suggests there are important sex differences in the expression of dominance (Buss 1981). Among sexually dimorphic species, females are often at a disadvantage concerning dominance-based strategies for achieving social influence (Archer 1988). This disadvantage can be compounded by sociocultural factors limiting female political participation (Rosaldo 1974). However, a close review of experimental literature and social systems in small-scale society reveals that women do utilize domi ...

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