Evolutionary Gender Differences Expressed in ShoppingUnderstanding why your partner shops in a particular way can help relieve stress at the store — not a bad idea during the holiday season.

Now a University of Michigan social psychologist suggests gender differences in evolutionary hunter-gathering behavior are expressed in shopping malls around the world.

Dr. Daniel Kruger of the U-M School of Public Health noted that gathering edible plants and fungi is traditionally done by women. In modern terms, think of filling a basket by selecting one item at a time, he said.

Women in foraging societies return to the same patches that yield previous successful harvests, and usually stay close to home and use landmarks as guides.

Foraging is a daily activity, often social and can include young children if necessary. When gathering, women must be very adept at choosing just the right color, texture, and smell to ensure food safety and quality. They also must time harvests, and know when a certain depleted patch will regenerate and yield good harvest again.

In modern terms, women are much more likely to know when a specific type of item will go on sale, for example, than men. Women also spend much more time choosing the perfect gift.

Men on the other hand, often have a specific item in mind and want to get in, get it, and get out.

For our ancestors, for example, it was critical to get meat home as quickly as possible, Kruger said.  And taking young children isn’t safe in a hunt and would likely hinder progress.

Of course, Kruger cautioned, these behaviors aren’t genetically determined and don’t apply to everyone, but there are consistent broad themes that can help to illuminate how behaviors evolve.

Source: University of Michigan