Posts Tagged ‘gender differences’

How big are gender differences in personality and interests, and how stable are these differences across cultures and over time? To answer these questions, I summarize data from two meta-analyses and three cross-cultural studies on gender differences in personality and interests. Results show that gender differences in Big Five personality traits are ‘small’ to ‘moderate,’ with the largest differences occurring for agreeableness and neuroticism (respective ds = 0.40 and 0.34; women higher than men). In contrast, gender differences on the people–things dimension of interests are ‘very large’ (d = 1.18), with women more people-oriented and less thing-oriented than men. Gender differences in personality tend to be larger in gender-egalitarian societies than in gender-inegalitarian societies, a finding that contradicts social role theory but is consistent with evolutionary, attributional, and social comparison theories. In contrast, gender differences in interests appear to be consistent across cultures and over time, a finding that suggests possible biologic influences. (continue reading…)


By: Larry Cahill, Ph.D.

Early in 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of the well-known sleep aid Ambien (zolpidem) to cut their recommended dose in half-but only for women. In essence, the FDA was acknowledging that despite extensive testing prior to the drug’s release on the market, millions of women had been overdosing on Ambien for 20 years. On February 9, 2014, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted this fact-and sex differences in general-by powerfully asking two questions: Why did this happen, and are men and women treated equally in research and medicine?1

The answer to the first question is that the biomedical community has long operated on what is increasingly being viewed as a false assumption: that biological sex matters little, if at all, in most areas of medicine. The answer to the second question is no, today’s biomedical research establishment is not treating men and women equally. What are some of the key reasons for the biomedical community’s false assumption, and why is this situation now finally changing?  What are some of the seemingly endless controversies about sex differences in the brain generated by “anti-sex difference” investigators?  And what lies at the root of the resistance to sex differences research in the human brain?

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Glenn Geher
Daniel Gambacorta

This research explored political motivations underlying resistance to evolutionary
psychology. Data were collected from 268 adults who varied in terms of academic
employment and parental status. Dependent variables represented whether participants
believed that several attributes are primarily the result of biological evolution versus
socialization. Variables addressed attitudes about: (a) sex differences in adults, (b) sex
differences in children, (c) sex differences in chickens, (d) human universals, and (e)
differences between dogs and cats. Using a Likert-scale, participants were asked to rate
the degree to which they believed items were due to “nature” versus “nurture.” For
instance, one of the items from the cat/dog subscale was “Dogs are more pack-oriented
than cats.” Independent variables included political orientation, parental status, and
academic employment status. Political liberalism corresponded to endorsing “nurture” as
influential – but primarily for the two human sex-difference variables. Academic
employment status was independently predictive of the belief that sex differences are
the result of “nurture.” This effect was exacerbated for academics who came from
sociology or women’s studies backgrounds. The effect of academic employment status
also corresponded to seeing behavioral differences between roosters and hens as
caused by “nurture.” Further, parents were more likely than non-parents to endorse
“nature” for the sex-difference variables. Beliefs about differences between cats and
dogs and beliefs about causes of human universals (that are not tied to sex differences)
were not related to these independent variables, suggesting that the political resistance
to evolutionary psychology is specifically targeted at work on sex differences.

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