From empathy and sexuality to science inclination and extroversion, statistical analysis of 122 different characteristics involving 13,301 individuals shows that men and women, by and large, do not fall into different groups. In other words, no matter how strange and inscrutable your partner may seem, their gender is probably only a small part of the problem.
“People think about the sexes as distinct categories,” says Harry Reis, professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and a co-author on the study to be published in the February issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “‘Boy or girl?’ is the first question parents are asked about their newborn, and sex persists through life as the most pervasive characteristic used to distinguish categories among humans.”
[ ]…But for the vast majority of psychological traits, including the fear of success, mate selection criteria, and empathy, men and women are definitely from the same planet. Instead of scores clustering at either end of the spectrum—the way they do with, say, height or physical strength—psychological indicators fall along a linear gradation for both genders. With very few exceptions, variability within each sex and overlap between the sexes is so extensive that the authors conclude it would be inaccurate to use personality types, attitudes, and psychological indicators as a vehicle for sorting men and women.
Some people from both groups will likely object to the findings because to some degree or another both groups like some of the stereotypes about their groups. There are negative stereotypes about women, but they also have positive stereotypes like being more compassionate and more creative. Some positive male stereotypes include being more emotionally stable and courageous. Some people certainly have those traits, but they’re not especially gender dependent. It is possible for a woman to be courageous and below average in terms of compassion. It is possible a man to be creative and not score especially high on emotional stability. The researchers on this study reanalyzed data from 13 studies, many of which the public has read about in secondary sources like popular magazines, that had shown significant and frequently large differences between the sexes. While they did conclude that these past studies were sometimes flawed, they did show that men and women do, in generally, distinctly differ in some ways.
And gender can be a reliable predictor for interest in very stereotypic activities, such as scrapbooking and cosmetics (women) and boxing and watching pornography (men).
There are reasons that people will not like this and those reasons likely cross cultural, religious, gender political, political party and other boundaries. Don’t give up hope. There will always be new studies of female versus male behavioral trends. The authors of this study even acknowledge that their paper may have flaws since it was so reliant on questionnaires.
Even some of those “stereotypic” behaviors might be the result of nurture rather than nature. If a girl is brought up to ride horses and rope cattle, than that will be typical behavior for her, not tom-boyish behavior. If a male is brought up learning crafts and scrapbooking, he will become proficient at those things and think of them as normal male behavior. Except, and this happens in both cases as many parents can attest. You bring up your child to like certain things and at some point – usually mid to late teens – they decide they’re not interested in the things their parents want them to have an interests in.