The psychological differences between men and women have become a hot topic in recent years. Thanks to modern technology, we now have scientific evidence to back up certain hypotheses. Two main arguments emerged: women’s and men’s brains differ biologically, thus affecting each sex’s behavior and personality. The second argument states that the difference between men and women behaviors stems from social constructs, not biology. There isn’t a definite answer to this argument, and further research would be important for modern gender equality.
Here are 5 facts about psychological differences between men and women:
1. Distinctions between male and female brain exist and could influence behavior.
On a wide scale, many scientific researches have confirmed that male and female brains have certain biological differences. For example, male brains generally have better neuron connections within a hemisphere. Meanwhile, in female brains, between-hemispheres connectivity predominates. This means that the male brain structure helps more in perception and coordinated action, while female brain structure results in a more intuitive thinking mode. Furthermore, the amount of grey matter in females is larger than that of male brains in general. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have used MRI scan on 80 people to confirm this. They also hypothesize that the higher grey matter contributes to better performances in language tasks in females than in males.
More differences between the two sex’s brains exist, but research conclusions have been a bit contradictory. These dissimilarities in turn influence our daily activities in addition to what’s socially expected of us.
2. However, most brains are similar.
Despite the differences between certain parts, most of the human brains are more alike to each other. Professor Joel at Tel Aviv University used MRI scans to record the image of more than 1,400 brains. She found that rarely any brains belong to an exclusively “male” or “female category. Another study shows that although parts of the brain between two sexes differ, the majority of those sizes overlap. Thus, you can’t just look at a brain and say, “this is a woman’s brain” or “this is a man’s brain.”
3. The psychological difference between men and women may stem from evolution
We’ve all heard this: men act more aggressive; women behave more empathetic and nurturing. Whether brain components play a part in this remains debatable. Regardless of your stance on this statement – which had contributed to modern female stereotypes and sexism – there may be an explanation behind it: evolution.
In an evolutionary perspective, living things live to pass on genes to the next generation. For women, this process can be incredibly resource-expensive. Even for primates in general, female tends to look for social stability as a direct effect from child rearing, while male doesn’t prioritize social stability as much as female. This leads to the current distinction between general personalities of male and female today.
Of course, this isn’t to say that the two sexes’ psychology can never be the same. Evolution is only one out of many possible explanations for their difference. It’s important to keep in mind that society expectations and a person’s nurturing environment can also shape his or her personality.
4. Understanding the psychological difference between male and female helps treatment of certain diseases
Women are twice more likely to develop depression than men, while men are more likely to abuse substances. On a more physical level, women are more likey to suffer from autoimmune diseases, while men have a higher chance of having Parkinson’s and cardiovascular diseases early in life.
A survey by the National Institute of Health reveals that women suffer depression more than men because they often think deeply and focus on negative emotions. The lead author of the survey, Nicholas Eaton, states that these findings support gender-specific treatment. He suggests that treatments can “[focus] on coping and cognitive skills to help prevent rumination from developing into clinically significant depression or anxiety” in women, and “shaping aggressive tendencies into non-destructive behavior” in men.
As for physical illnesses, a graduate student at Harvard, Amy Braun, noticed that most medical researches use male mice as as lab animals more than female mice. And for decades, clinical trials to test for new therapies have excluded women, leading to inaccurate results. Out of 10 drugs recalled after approval, eight of them was found to affect women more severely than men.
So what does this mean in general? It means that acknowledging certain differences between men and women psychologically – and physically, too – may allow us to develop better treatment for mental illness and other diseases. Many institutions have begun to take steps to incorporate sex distinctions in their medical research, such as in Stanford University, U.S National Institute of Health, and European Commission.
5. Stereotypes of men and women exacerbate the perceived differences between men and women
One shouldn’t utilize these psychological differences between the sexes for negative purposes such as stereotyping females and males, which can lead to sexism in the modern culture. Especially in children, gender stereotypes portrayed in the media can have a lasting effect on their perception of how each sex should act. “Brave warriors” can manifest into aggressive behaviors in boys later on, and “shy princesses” subconsciously influence teen girls to be reserved and submissive. Furthermore, the “boys are better at math” mindset may be steering girls away from STEM majors.
Each individual is also heavily influenced by the environment surrounding them and the nurture they received as a child. Furthermore, culture and societal expectations contribute to the prevalent sexual dimorphism.
There are certain biological differences between a man and a woman, but this isn’t a reason to treat any sex differently than the other. No one has purely all “male” or “female” traits. Every one of us is an amazing, unique blend of characteristics all across the gender spectrum. All in all, as Maya Angelou said, “We’re more alike, my friend, than we’re unalike.”