'New skills' gender gap revealed

FOR years countless women have struggled to make their partners pay attention to what they are saying.

So it will come as no surprise for them to discover what they have known all along – men have low attention spans.

New research has also discovered that women are far more likely to learn from experience than men, who immediately assume they know everything.

The revelations came to light when two groups of gibbons, biological cousins to humans, were presented with a rake-like tool, with one group given seven days to observe and play around with it. Then grapes were put just out of reach of the animals so they could use the rake to reach them.

Male gibbons immediately investigated the tool, but the females were far more cautious until they knew the object was safe.

Gibbons are monogamous so researchers considered their lifestyle to mirror that of humans, and the results have opened new questions about the sex differences in learning.

Dr Clare Cunningham, a psychology lecturer at Abertay University, led the research of the animals at the Gibbon Conservation Centre near Los Angeles, California.

She said: "Males are very eager to explore new things. Certainly in humans women find very attractive as a kind of risk-taking male. So males are very quick to rush in, but once they had experience of it and discovered there was nothing really to be gained from it, they pretty much ignored it.

"Females were slower in general. They were much more cautious, which is something we would predict because really females would have much more to lose if the situation turned out to be dangerous."