Explaining sex differences in social behavior: A meta-analytic perspective

Alice H Eagly, Wendy Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent meta-analytic reviews have documented that the sexes typically differ in a variety of social behaviors, including aggression, helping, nonverbal behavior, and various aspects of inter-action in task-oriented groups. In general, these findings are consistent with a social-role theory of sex differences, which emphasizes the causal impact of gender roles-that is, of people's beliefs about the behavior that is appropriate for each sex. To move beyond the demonstration of consistency between role expectations and social behavior, meta-analyses have examined the moderators and mediators specified by this theoretical model The outcomes of these moderator and mediator analyses are illustrated from several meta-analyses of gender and social behavior. These meta-analyses thus show that quantitative reviewing is not limited to the mere summarizing of research findings; the technique also allows reviewers to examine the plausibility of theories that are relevant to these findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-315
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
StatePublished - 1991


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