Gender effects in advertising

Michael F. Cramphorn

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Introduction: the (not so) blank slate

Since Aristotle, people have believed that at birth our minds are empty, a virtual blank slate, which will develop through reason and experience. It followed that any so-called gender differences emerged after birth and derived from social and psychological conditioning (Aristotle 350bc; Pinker 2002).

However, the accumulating evidence strongly indicates the contrary. Wechsler had some difficulty finding gender-neutral measures, and regarded the differences in scores between males and females as a ‘nuisance’ (Moir & Jessel 1991). In-utero hormonal flows result in brains that already have gender-related predispositions at birth (Baron-Cohen 2003a; Brizendine 2007). For such intrinsic differences to exist, adaptive selection of physiological differences must have been taking place in humans long before our species became big-brained, conscious and forward thinking. Such hard-wired differences result in intrinsically different male and female personalities, and ways of dealing with issues, general approach and reactions in life (Baron-Cohen 2003a).