Sex and personality differences underestimated

Men and women are more different in their personalities than commonly believed, new research suggests.

Divide between male and female characteristics great, researchers say

Researchers found that women scored higher in sensitivity, warmth and anxiety, while men ranked higher in emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance.

Men and women are more different in their personalities than commonly believed, new research suggests.

Scientists at the University of Turin and the University of Manchester say they have developed a new method to analyze personality differences between the sexes, which suggests the differences are much greater than previously thought.

They studied 10,261 people — 5,137 females and 5,124 males — and found key differences.

Women scored higher in:

  • sensitivity.
  • warmth.
  • anxiety.

Men got higher scores in:

  • emotional stability.
  • dominance.
  • rule-consciousness.
  • vigilance (wariness).

They noted significant differences in levels of aggression and life interests as well.

The researchers measured behavioural traits in a broader fashion than previous studies did. They argued that these broader definitions provide a more accurate description of personality characteristics. "We believe we made it clear that the true extent of sex differences in human personality has been consistently underestimated," they write.

They chose sensitivity as a major differentiating factor between men and women. "Sensitivity differentiates people who are sensitive, esthetic, sentimental, intuitive, and tender-minded from those who are utilitarian, objective, unsentimental and tough-minded," write the authors.

The authors hope their findings will prompt a review of gender differences. "The accurate quantification of between sex differences represents a necessary initial step toward an informed theoretical debate and may eventually help researchers discriminate between alternative models of biological and cultural evolution," reads the article.

The study was published Wednesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.