Twenty years ago American author and counselor John Gray wrote the best-selling Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Gray’s simplified thesis suggested common relationship problems between men and women are a result of fundamental differences between the genders.
Despite the book’s popular success, the issue of gender differences remains widely debated.
A new study by Italian researchers sought to provide a detailed review of real differences, and, if differences actually persist, then the extent to which the difference influence relationships.
Using new and more accurate methods to measure and analyze personality differences, investigators led by Marco Del Giudice, Ph.D., of the University of Turin found large differences in personality are common between men and women.
As part of the investigation, researcher administered personality tests to more than 10,000 people, approximately half men and half women. The personality assessment included 15 personality scales, including such traits as warmth, sensitivity, and perfectionism.
Significant differences between the sexes became apparent when investigators looked at multiple traits that make up a person’s overall personality profile. However, the differences looked smaller when each trait was considered separately.
Experts believe the study indicates that previous methods to measure such differences have been inadequate, both because they focused on one trait at a time and because they failed to correct for measurement error.
In the end, researchers conclude that the true extent of sex differences in human personality has been consistently underestimated — a finding that supports Gray’s provocative assertion.
The study is published in the online journal PLoS ONE.
Source: Public Library of Science