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The socialization of boys and men in the modern era: An evolutionary mismatch

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 November 2019

Anthony Biglan*
Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR
Mark J. Van Ryzin
Oregon Research Institute, Eugene, OR
Kevin J. Moore
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Michelle Mauricci
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Irin Mannan
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Author for Correspondence: Anthony Biglan, Ph.D., Oregon Research Institute, 1776 Millrace, Eugene, OR 97403. E-mail


This paper examines the misalignment between modern human society and certain male phenotypes, a misalignment that has been highlighted and explored in great detail in the work of Tom Dishion. We begin by briefly enumerating the ongoing developmental difficulties of many boys and young men and how these difficulties affect them and those around them. We then suggest that the qualities that have been advantageous for men and their families in our earlier evolution but that are often no longer functional in modern society are a source of these problems. Finally, we provide a brief review of prevention programs that can contribute to preventing this type of problematic development and eliciting more prosocial behavior from at-risk boys and men. We conclude with an overview of research and policy priorities that could contribute to reducing the proportion of boys and young men who experience developmental difficulties in making their way in the world.

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