Posted at 11:27 AM Jul 17, 2009By Andrea Grimes
Can you imagine a mainstream news outlet opening a story with that line? Of course not. But sexism! Sexism is totes cool. Time's John Cloud got away with this sweet cherry of a lead for an article on female friendships: "Pardon the sexism, but why are girls so girly?"
Blatant idiocy aside, the article covers an interesting research study that seems to show teen girls are more interested in one-on-one interaction than group activities, whereas boys experience the reverse. They showed teens photos of other kids, asking them to rate which ones they'd like to chat with online. Then, they conducted MRI scans when the teens were anticipating talking to their potential chat partners:
The results suggest that as girls progress from early puberty to late adolescence, certain regions of their brains become more active when they face a potential social interaction. Specifically, when an older girl anticipates meeting someone new -- someone whom she believes will be interested in her -- her nucleus accumbens (which is associated with reward and motivation), hypothalamus (which is associated with hormone secretion), hippocampus (which is associated with social learning) and insula (which is associated with subjective feelings) all become more active. By contrast, boys in the same situation show no such increase in these areas. In fact, the activity in their insula actually declines.Cloud takes it upon himself to explain to us exactly what this means:
'Cept that the scientists who conducted the study say that overly simplistic, generalizing conclusions are bad: "The authors of the study are reluctant to draw such broad conclusions about the gender disparities." Lame-o! Pardon my sexism, but who doesn't love drawing broad conclusions about broads?
Perhaps it's evidence that evolution has programmed boys to compete within large groups, so they can learn to eliminate rivals for women -- and that girls have been programmed to judge, one-on-one, who would be the most protective father for offspring.