Personality and Sex Differences

Personality and Sex Differences

What makes up your personality? Your genes? Where you grew up? Past experiences? Labels and cultural expectations?

The answer is...all of it!

But we’re not going to talk about all of these factors. In this video, I’m going to talk about some behavioral genetics. Specifically, I’m going to tell you statistics about differences in personality when it comes to your biological sex.

Before we begin, I want to remind you that I’m not talking about gender in this video. I will be talking about biological sex from birth. It’s important to remember that not all cultures treat biological sex the same. What may be true in one culture may be the complete opposite in another. This is simply a fun video to share different studies that have looked at personality and biological sex.

Biological Sex and the Big Five

Researchers have been studying the effect of genetics on the Big Five personality traits of a person for years, but only recently started looking into whether or not your biological sex has an impact as well.

For example, some recent studies have suggested that women tend to score higher levels in neuroticism and extraversion than males. Women have also been found to have a moderately higher level of agreeableness and conscientiousness. When it comes to openness to experience, no significant correlations to biological sex have been found.

Before we move on, it is important to note that any correlations that were found between biological sex and the Big Five personality traits were extremely small. In fact, the studies that these statistics came from actually concluded in the end that the Big Five traits do not differ by biological sex, and that any observed differences in personality were likely due to other biological and social factors. Researchers are still looking for more significant differences based on sex.

Biological Sex and Myers-Briggs

Even though specific Big 5 trait scores do not have definite correlations to biological sex, a study in 1995 determined that correlations exist in four of the eight Meyers-Brigg personality traits.

This study suggests that males are more likely to be introverted and make decisions by thinking, while females were more likely to be extroverted and make decisions based on feeling. No significant differences were found for sensing and intuition or for judging and perceiving.

Biological Sex, Interests and Behavior

Personality, sex, and other factors all play into the interests you have and how you act on those interests.

Let’s talk about interests first. Statistics taken regarding men and women in Western cultures have suggested that men are generally interested in things while women are generally interested in people. This is one possible explanation for the traditional job roles that have been held by men and women in Western cultures. Engineers and factory workers, for example, primarily deal with things. Teachers and nurses need to interact with and understand people.

Outside of the workforce, men and women tend to look for different features in romantic partners.

Studies suggest that males unconsciously focus on features that suggest high fertility. Females usually focus more on socio-economic statuses.

Some statistics about sex and specific behaviors are actually quite alarming.

For example, homicide perpetrators are 85% likely to be a man, and those men kill non-intimate strangers 80% of the time. Meanwhile, when women commit homicide, they kill intimate partners or family members 60% of the time.

How Culture Affects Sex Affects Personality Traits

It would not be fair to end this video without discussing how culture and expectations of gender affect these studies and how they are conducted. Stereotypes in certain cultures, whether we want them to or not, influence what is studied and even the results of the study.

And as cultural ideals change, people of different sexes may see certain traits, decisions, and behaviors be collectively accepted and recognized.

In fact, it is hard to separate culture from sex and personality traits.  For example, studies have found that in Western cultures such as the United States, men are usually encouraged to be individualists, or focused on only their own goals, while women are generally encouraged to be collectivist, or focused on helping others succeed. However, these studies have also found that this is flipped for other cultures! In South Korea for example, women are generally favored to be individualist and men to be collectivist.

The reality is that your personality is defined through a big jumble of inputs that you receive throughout your life. Things like culture, biological sex, geographic location, and even your physical health can change the ways that you think and act.

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References: 

"Men as Cultural Ideals: Cultural Values ... - Harvard Business School." https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Publication%20Files/cuddy%20et%20al%202015_0d8f88fa-e2ce-4e79-93de-abab85d9a2da.pdf. Accessed 26 Feb. 2019.

"Personality differences between men and women - Rowan Digital Works." 1 May. 1995, https://rdw.rowan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3256&context=etd. Accessed 26 Feb. 2019.

"Sex differences in the Big Five model personality traits: A ... - MIDUS." 22 Mar. 2018, http://midus.wisc.edu/findings/pdfs/1779.pdf. Accessed 19 Feb. 2019.

"Waist-to-Hip Ratio." http://people.sunyit.edu/~lepres/thesis/principles/259_pdfsam_POD.pdf. Accessed 20 Feb. 2019.

What Makes You Click: An Empirical Analysis of Online ... - CiteSeerX." http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.61.4010&rep=rep1&type=pdf. Accessed 18 Feb. 2019.

About the author 

Theodore

Theodore created PracticalPsychology while in college and has transformed the educational online space of psychology. His goal is to help people improve their lives by understanding how their brains work. 1,700,000 Youtube subscribers and a growing team of psychologists, the dream continues strong!

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