Friday, January 11, 2008

Why Can't a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures

Tyler Cowen pointed out this morning that "the division of labor both opens up the possibility of becoming who you truly are and it magnifies and extends who you can be." He produced this statement in reaction to the abstract to Why Can't a Man Be More Like a Woman? Sex Differences in Big Five Personality Traits Across 55 Cultures.

The authors of the study are contending that personality differences between men and women tend to increase in developed economies. I don't have access to the data the researchers have and most importantly I'm not in the same field, but my intuition tells me that perhaps ALL personality differences increase in developed economies? Cowen suggests a similar thing so I wasn't the only one to react to the abstract this way. Nevertheless, it is a rather interesting premise. Here is a snippet:

'Previous research suggested that sex differences in personality traits are larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with those of men. In this article, the authors report cross-cultural findings in which this unintuitive result was replicated across samples from 55 nations (N = 17,637). On responses to the Big Five Inventory, women reported higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness than did men across most nations. These findings converge with previous studies in which different Big Five measures and more limited samples of nations were used. Overall, higher levels of human development--including long and healthy life, equal access to knowledge and education, and economic wealth--were the main nation-level predictors of larger sex differences in personality. Changes in men's personality traits appeared to be the primary cause of sex difference variation across cultures. It is proposed that heightened levels of sexual dimorphism result from personality traits of men and women being less constrained and more able to naturally diverge in developed nations. In less fortunate social and economic conditions, innate personality differences between men and women may be attenuated.

You may access the abstract here.


Unknown said...

what does gender have anything to do with what one does? or is gender just the word du jour these days occupying every study in the social sciences.... hmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, Nicky. Gender perceptions and gender-influenced decisions do have an impact on the economy. Let's see, are men and women paid the same for the same job performed?
Um, I think not.
Or maybe I've been reading the wrong sources.
To say that gender is a non-issue and that it's got zilch to do with matters of economy and economics is well, i have no adjective......

Anonymous said...

spoken like a true economist!

Anonymous said...

I still do not understand why this is actually a gendered study....?
Or is it?
How do I download the article? I only have the abstract but would like to have the whole text.
Thanks, Brikena!

B.R. said...

Obviously, I think that gender has much to do with much.... Title of blog?
But cheekiness aside, I do agree with Tyler in that this is an issue that seems to have an impact on men and women......

I think it a gendered study in that it clearly factors in gender .....