Sex difference in choice of concealed or exposed refuge sites by preschool children viewing a model leopard in a playground simulation of antipredator behavior

Richard G. Coss
2016 International Journal of Psychological Research  
<p>The current study of preschool children characterizes a semi-natural extension of experimental questions on how human ancestors evaded predation when encountering dangerous felids. In a pretend game on a playground, we presented full-size leopard and deer models to children (N = 39) in a repeated-measures experimental design. Prior to viewing the model presented 15-m away, each child was instructed by the experimenter to go where she or he would feel safe. The rationale for this study was
more » ... ed on the anthropological construct of "sexual dinichism," positing that, during the Pliocene, smaller-bodied hominin females engaged in more arboreal behavior than larger-bodied males. Consistent with this construct, our previous simulation research using images of an African rock outcrop showed that, after viewing a lion, girls preferred a tree as refuge rather than a crevice or large boulder whereas boys did not differentiate these refuge sites. In this follow-up study, we predicted that, after viewing the model leopard, the preschool girls would differ from the boys by not choosing enclosed refuge sites analogous to the crevice. Analyses of a contingency table for the leopard model supported this hypothesis by yielding a significant interaction of sex and refuge location (p = .031, d = .76), the source of which was a reliably larger percentage of girls not choosing concealed refuge (p = .005, d = 2.3). The interaction of sex and refuge location for the model deer was not significant (p &gt; .5). Our findings suggest that, in contrast to the deer, the girls selected exposed playground refuge sites rather than concealing ones to maintain visual contact with the leopard as a contingency for future action.</p>
doi:10.21500/20112084.2325 fatcat:vmyooerbz5cofit44gb6ic3zau