Myth #5: Women Are More Intuitive
Many women pride themselves on their powers of intuition, but new research reveals that intuitive, empathic thinking isn’t solely the province of ladies. A study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire in Great Britain tested subjects’ ability to decipher real smiles from fake ones. Although more women than men reported that they were “highly intuitive,” there was virtually no corresponding improvement in performance. Men detected 72 percent of the real smiles to women’s 71 percent. When asked specifically to decipher the expressions of the opposite sex, men did even better. They detected 76 percent of false female smiles, while women picked out only 67 percent of men’s fake smiles. Intuition is traditionally considered a female attribute, but research such as this shows that men’s and women’s abilities are just about even.
According to psychologist Janet Shibley Hyde, whose article “The Gender Similarities Hypothesis” was published in the September 2005 issue of the American Psychologist, there are only a few areas in which men and women are substantially different. They differ in measures of motor performance in tasks like speed and throwing power (since after puberty, men are bigger and have more muscle mass), and in certain facets of and attitudes about sexuality. Also, women and men differ in expression of aggression: men exhibit more physical aggression, while women score higher on tests of relational aggression and verbal bullying.
Reinforcing stereotypes about men and women is damaging; it can prevent people from expressing themselves, and it solidifies outdated gender roles. Some women may talk more than their husbands and some men may be more competitive than their wives, but those differences are created by society, not biology. Anyone who’s been in a marital argument can attest that sometimes it seems like his or her partner is on a separate planet. But the truth is that men and women are far more alike than we are different.