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I know, I know, after an evening in your smoking jacket reading Jezebel and John Scalzi with blurry eyes and tending to your rickets, you wonder how anyone could think men and women aren’t exactly alike except for that bothersome business of the genitalia.

Well, my hermetically sealed friend, you can listen to CH telling you like it is from field experience, or you can get the same revelations from ❤SCIENCE❤.

Sex differences in personality are believed to be comparatively small. However, research in this area has suffered from significant methodological limitations. We advance a set of guidelines for overcoming those limitations: (a) measure personality with a higher resolution than that afforded by the Big Five; (b) estimate sex differences on latent factors; and (c) assess global sex differences with multivariate effect sizes. We then apply these guidelines to a large, representative adult sample, and obtain what is presently the best estimate of global sex differences in personality.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Personality measures were obtained from a large US sample (N = 10,261) with the 16PF Questionnaire. Multigroup latent variable modeling was used to estimate sex differences on individual personality dimensions, which were then aggregated to yield a multivariate effect size (Mahalanobis D). We found a global effect size D = 2.71, corresponding to an overlap of only 10% between the male and female distributions. Even excluding the factor showing the largest univariate ES, the global effect size was D = 1.71 (24% overlap). These are extremely large differences by psychological standards.


The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology.

Sex-based personality differences are large and widespread, and result from competing evolutionary pressures placed on men and women.

In addition to their direct influences on mating processes, personality traits correlate with many other sexually selected behaviors, such as status-seeking and risk-taking (see e.g., [20], [34], [35]). Thus, in an evolutionary perspective, personality traits are definitely not neutral with respect to sexual selection. Instead, there are grounds to expect robust and wide-ranging sex differences in this area, resulting in strongly sexually differentiated patterns of emotion, thought, and behavior – as if there were “two human natures”, as effectively put by Davies and Shackelford [15].

Two human natures (you could argue for a lot more if you include racial differences in personality). This is the reason game works as a concept and as a practical guide. Women are very different, emotionally and psychologically, than are men, and game is a system which leverages this sex-specific personality contrast. Think about it: If men and women were completely alike, whatever worked for women in the dating market would also work equally well for men. But two minutes in the jungle are all you need to notice that the working strategies men and women employ to find and attract mates are very different.

The study is worth reading in full, especially the authors’ methodology of breaking down the Big Five personality traits into smaller components, and the importance of measuring latent variables.

So where do men and women most differ in personality traits?

In univariate terms, the largest differences between the sexes were found in Sensitivity, Warmth, and Apprehension (higher in females), and Emotional stability, Dominance, Rule-consciousness, and Vigilance (higher in males). These effects subsume the classic sex differences in instrumentality/expressiveness or dominance/nurturance.

Feminists and equalists will try to ignore, suppress, or distort findings about sex differences like those in this study, because the notion that there is an archetypical female personality and an archetypical male personality that is biological in construct is a stake through the heart of everything they desperately want to believe about human sexual nature and the impolite and inegalitarian forms it often takes.

How is an ugly feminist supposed to exhort normal women to “lean in” when normal women don’t have any desire nor disposition nor, for that matter, talent to do so? It is a pickle.


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