Seemingly the title of this blog post is a good candidate for top honors in the "Well, duh, that's obvious" pantheon of trite statements.
But, hey, I learned about this unsurprising finding in the June 2022 issue of Scientific American, so it's decidedly science'y.
The article is called "Men Aren't from Mars, nor are Women from Venus." This, of course, is a mirror image of John Gray's 1992 book, "Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus." It's based on a study of studies involving the personality traits of more than 15,000 people.
Cisgender people. Which means people whose gender identity corresponds to their sex assigned at birth, as contrasted with transgender people. Since 98 percent of the study participants identified themselves as cisgender, the article's authors don't draw any conclusions about the 2 percent.
They found in the data 18 specific self-reported traits that varied between the men and women in the study. An algorithm they built was able to predict a person's gender based on the scores they self-reported on the traits 78 percent of the time.
That seems pretty high to me, but it means that 22 percent of the time gender couldn't be predicted from a person's personality.
What's sort of surprising is that just one trait out of the 18 could predict a person's gender 69 percent of the time, while apparently the other 17 just added another 9 percent to the predictability, bringing it to the aforementioned 78 percent.
That trait was... a focus on sex. Here's an excerpt from the Scientific American article.
The most sizable of these differences [between men and women] was the degree to which cisgender people thought about sex, assessed by asking people to rate how much they agreed with the statement "I often have sexual thoughts when I meet an attractive-looking person" and disagreed with the statement "I do not frequently think about sex."
(This "sex-focused" characteristic, while not linked to major personality traits commonly studied in psychology, nonetheless fits the conception of a personality trait as a pattern in thought, emotion, or behavior. It also relates to a concept called sexual preoccupation.)
We found that gender could explain about 18 percent of the variation in the extent to which people are sex-focused. Men had a higher average score on this trait than women. There were still plenty of women who had a higher score than most men, however. In other words, individual men and women were highly varied, even though at the group level, men tended to differ from women.
On every trait, there was a substantial overlap between men and women. Yet at the tail ends -- where people either strongly agreed or strongly disagreed with the questions we asked them -- larger differences emerged.
For example, very low compassion was rare in both men and women, but the few people who identified as very uncompassionate were much more likely to be men. This result is consistent with the finding that antisocial personality disorder, which often involves a lack of remorse or empathy, is more common among men than women.
So my admittedly non-scientific summary of this research is that us men are more likely than women to be sex-crazed jerks who don't care much about other people.
Hard to argue with that assessment. But just today I was able to release a childproof bottle cap that my wife couldn't open. So men are good for something!