Men are from Mars, women are from Pluto (or even further away)
THE differences between the personalities of men and women are far greater than previously thought, new research has shown.
Scientists studied 10,000 people, half of them men and half of them women, and discovered that some traits were strongly female and others strongly male.
When multiple traits were considered at the same time, men’s and women’s personalities appeared very different.
The results suggest that the title of John Gray’s well-known book Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus might not be so far-fetched.
Traits strongly linked to women included sensitivity, warmth and apprehension. Traits that were strongly male included dominance, emotional stability and adherence to rules.
Three traits seemed to be neither strongly aligned to men or women. They were perfectionism, liveliness and abstractedness.
Dr Marco Del Giudice, from the department of psychology at the University of Turin in Italy, said: “We believe we made it clear that the true extent of sex differences in human personality has been consistently underestimated.”
The study compared for the first time overall personality profiles by taking multiple traits into account instead of individual ones.
The authors believe it gives a far more accurate impression of the differences between men and women than ever before.
Dr Del Giudice said: “Sex differences in personality are believed to be comparatively small. However, research in this area has suffered from significant methodological limitations.
“The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology.”
The existence and extent of differences between the personalities of men and women have been the subject of much debate. One influential school of thought suggests men and women are largely similar.
American professor Janet Hyde put forward her influential “gender similarities hypothesis” in 2005, which suggested that males and females are similar on most but not all psychological variables, meaning they are more alike than they are different.
However, Dr Del Giudice said his research calls this into question. And he argues that the methods his study used to measure personality differences were more accurate than previous methods used by researchers.
His research used 15 personality traits, and when men’s and women’s overall personality profiles were compared – taking multiple traits into account – very large differences between the sexes became apparent.
Dr Del Giudice said previous methods to measure differences had been inadequate because they focused on one trait at a time.
He said: “It is difficult to overstate the theoretical and practical importance of sex differences in personality. Finding large overall differences would tell us that the sexes differ broadly in their emotional and behavioural patterns, rather than just in a few motivational domains such as aggression and sexuality.”
The research, The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences in Personality, is published in the online journal PLoS ONE today.
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