Men, Women, Mars, Venus – the world is flat!

A brand new study was published in this month’s American Psychologist (1/15, V 70 #1) asking yet again, are men and women more alike or are they more different? These researchers had a new statistical method and reviewed over 100 meta-analyses of all the relevant gender studies. We are talking about 12,000,000, yes, 12 million participants. These studies covered aspects of personality, ability, interests, aptitudes and behaviors.

Statue in front of Provincetown library

Statue in front of Provincetown library. 

Years ago, everyone seemed to accept the notion that men and women were very different. Therefore, we had a ton of books about the Mars vs Venus thing. It suited our stereotypes. We all accepted the gender beliefs about aggression, talkativeness, emotionality and so on. In 2005, Janet Hyde and her colleagues published research that said these gender differences were relatively small and suggested a “gender similarities” hypothesis rather than the “gender differences” hypothesis that we all grew up on. Wow, this was like hearing oatmeal was bad for us and donuts were good. There was a great deal of reaction. The findings went against our dearest stereotypes.

Well folks, here is another, even bigger study with more data that says basically the same thing. Gender differences are small, in spite of TV, film, cultural stereotypes and our own long-held beliefs.  Differences are small. We are more alike than different. The distinctions seem to occur in the extremes, the tail ends of behaviors, not in the wide middle range. There were some differences that researchers noted: men scored higher on masculinity, mental rotation ability (don’t ask me what this is)

, importance of physical attractiveness in choosing a mate, and aggression. Women scored higher on: reactivity to painful stimuli, peer attachment, and interest in persons as opposed to things. From the hundreds of factors compared, these are very few. 85.5% of differences were small or very small.

There was not enough information to say whether this holds across ages, cultures, or time periods.

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