Men and Women: Are We Really So Different?

Pretty funny. I've heard this before.  Men and women aren't really so different.  A new study claims again that's true.

According to, an Iowa State University (ISU) study has found that, in reality, men and women are more alike than we may think.  Gender stereotypes can influence beliefs and create the impression that the differences are large, says Zlatan Krizan, an associate professor of psychology at ISU.

 Aggregated studies that included 12 million people "found an almost 80 percent overlap for more than 75 percent of the psychological characteristics researched, such as risk taking, occupational stress and morality.

So, are we really more alike than unlike?  In my house some of the stereotypes play out.  My husband is as ineffective with tools -- and uncomplicated repairs -- as I am.  Our handyman is sending his children through college.  And I'm not a great cook, but I'm better than he (who once asked how you turn the oven on). 

But he's the one who can open all the jars and I'm still the one he asks if it's cold out, when we wake up (I don't know!  I haven't been outside yet, remember?). 

The researchers don't agree with me.  “This is important because it suggests that when it comes to most psychological attributes, we are relatively similar to one another as men and women,” Krizan says. “This was true regardless of whether we looked at . . .  intelligence. . .personality traits, or . . . satisfaction with life.”

Maybe they agree with me a little. Researchers identified 10 attributes in which there was a significant gap between genders. Some of these characteristics fell in line with stereotypes. For example, men were more aggressive and masculine, while women had a closer attachment to peers and were more sensitive to pain.

“People tend to overestimate the differences because they notice the extremes,” Krizan says. "The difference on any one trait is pretty small. When there are several smaller differences, people might think there’s a big difference because the whole configuration has a different flavor. I think they make a mistake assuming that any given trait is very different from typical men to women.”


  1. Hi Deborah, I just read your article about the killing in downtown Stamford by the 15 year old boy your son grew up with and had to give you my compliments on such a well written piece! I felt it was written with amazing sensitivity and compassion. I too am a mother of children in Stamford (3 daughters, one who is turning 15 later this year and who I also asked if she knew this boy). I thought the same thing about that boy and what could have happened to this 15 year old child to become someone that could plunge a knife into a strangers heart over spilled coffee. Where does that kind of bravado (or pent up anger?) stem from I ask? Has he been ignored, abused verbally or worse, physically? What does his family say to this and will they take any responsibility for how this boy has turned out under their care? We may never know but hopefully this may get the attention of other parents, grandparents or guardians who have similar children in their care and take more control in their lives before another tragedy happens.


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