Personality differences between the sexes are largest in the most gender equal countries

October 11, 2018

The self-rated personalities of men and women differ more in more gender equal countries, according to recent research from the University of Gothenburg, University West and the University of Skövde.

In the study over 130,000 people from 22 different countries filled in a validated personality test. The test measured the "big five" personality traits (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism), regarded as the most accepted categorization within personality research.

The average differences between men and women's personality scores were computed for each country and then compared with the country's gender equality level as measured by the World Economic Forum.

Replicating past research, the study showed that higher levels of gender equality were associated with larger differences in personality between the sexes. Countries with very high levels of gender equality, such as Sweden and Norway, showed differences in personality between the sexes that were around twice as large as countries with substantially lower levels of gender equality, such as China and Malaysia.

Furthermore, women generally rated themselves as more worried (Neuroticism), social (Extraversion), inquisitive (Openness), caring (Agreeableness) and responsible (Conscientiousness) than men, and these relative differences were larger in gender equal countries.

"Insofar as these traits can be classified as stereotypically feminine, our interpretation of the data is that as countries become more progressive men and women gravitate towards their traditional gender norms. But, we really don't know why it is like this, and sadly our data does not let us tease out the causal explanations," says Erik Mac Giolla, PhD in Psychology.

"A possible explanation is that people in more progressive and equal countries have a greater opportunity to express inherent biological differences. Another theory is that people in progressive countries have a greater desire to express differences in their identity through their gender," says Petri Kajnoius, Associate Professor in Psychology and Behavioral Measurements.

A combination of social role theory and evolutionary perspectives may ultimately be needed to explain these findings.
-end-
More information:

The study is reported in the article: Sex differences in personality are larger in gender equal countries: Replicating and extending a surprising finding. International Journal of Psychology.

Contact:

Erik Mac Giolla (first author), Ph.D, Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, and Lecturer in Psychology, University West: +46 (0)31-786 1934, erik.mac.giolla@psy.gu.se Petri Kajonius (second author), Associate Professor, Department of Social and Behavioural Studies, University West, and Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Skövde, +46 (0)725?471 045, petri.kajonius@hv.se

University of Gothenburg

Related Personality Articles from Brightsurf:

Infant temperament predicts personality more than 20 years later
Researchers investigating how temperament shapes adult life-course outcomes have found that behavioral inhibition in infancy predicts a reserved, introverted personality at age 26.

State of mind: The end of personality as we know it
In a study published today researchers propose that changing states of mind are holistic in that they exert all-encompassing and coordinated effects simultaneously on our perception, attention, thought, affect, and behavior.

Want to change your personality? It may not be easy to do alone
Most people want to change an aspect of their personality, but left to their own devices, they may not be successful in changing, research shows.

How personality predicts seeing others as sex objects
Several personality traits related to psychopathy -- especially being openly antagonistic -- predict a tendency to view others as merely sex objects, finds a study by psychologists at Emory University.

Scientists say you can change your personality
A review of recent research in personality science points to the possibility that personality traits can change through persistent intervention and major life events.

Personality traits affect retirement spending
How quickly you spend your savings in retirement may have as much or more to do with your personality than whether you have a lot of debt or want to leave an inheritance.

For the first time: A method for measuring animal personality
A study on mice shows animal research may need to take into account the connection between genes, behavior and personality.

Your spending data may reveal aspects of your personality
How you spend your money can signal aspects of your personality, according to research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The sun may have a dual personality, simulations suggest
A deep dive into the sun's interior provides new clues to the forces that govern that star's internal clock.

A personality test for ads
People leave digital footprints online, and this information could helps marketers personalize ads based on individual personality types.

Read More: Personality News and Personality Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.