||VI. Conclusion||Page 9|
In conclusion, I think we can categorically reject the myth that gender differences in human warfare reflect a biological basis. Two of the three logical assumptions necessary to support the myth are not supported by the evidence. Male animals are not generally more aggressive than females, and human institutional behavior is not a direct reflection of human individual behavior.
Unfortunately, the myth persists and has political effects. The most systematic study indicates that about half of the college students around the world believe the myth, and our evidence indicates that people who believe the myth are less likely to work for peace (Eckhardt, 1972; Adams & Bosch, 1987).
If the evidence does not support it, what then is the origin of this myth? I submit, as a working hypothesis, that the myth is a projection of our human institutional situation onto our models of animal behavior. To quote a favorite animal behavior study, "Most studies of physiology and behavior, in which the wild Norway rat or its various domesticated breeds have been used as subjects. ..have been based upon hypotheses primarily formulated on the basis of clinical studies on man" (Calhoun, 1962). Perhaps there has been some improvement, but these words seem as valid today as when they were written thirty years ago. Most investigators still establish situations in which males are the subjects and other males are their targets, intruders, or cage-mates. Experiments which use pregnant or lactating females, competitive fighting, or female subjects are becoming more frequent, but are still the exception rather than the rule.
It is my hope that the bias toward use of male subjects is beginning to change. At the 1984 meetings of the International Society for Research on Aggression, hosted by Lagerspetz and her colleagues, almost half of the papers on animal aggression used female subjects. It is important that the textbooks change as well. Finally, we can look forward to the day when the myth that male animals are more aggressive than females can no longer be used by those who would argue that war is product of biology rather than culture.