Men and Women May Truly See Things Differently

WEDNESDAY April 20, 2011 -- Men are more likely to see issues in black-and-white, whereas women tend to see things in shades of grey, a new study contends.

British researchers asked 113 volunteers to judge how 50 objects fit into certain categories: partially, fully, or not at all. The objects and categories were highly likely to stimulate debate or disagreement.

For example, is a tomato a fruit? Is paint a tool?

Men were found to be more likely to make absolute judgments (a tomato is or is not a fruit). Women, on the other hand, were more flexible and 23 percent more likely to say that an object belonged in the partial category (a tomato can "sort of" be a fruit, for instance).

The study by University of Warwick researchers, scheduled for publication in Archives of Sexual Behavior, used scientific methods to test the popular belief that men and women differ in terms of making choices and decisions.

"Of course, simply because we have found a significant sex difference in how men and women categorize does not mean that one method is intrinsically better than the other," Zachary Estes, a psychologist and author of the study, said in a university news release.

"For instance, male doctors may be more likely to quickly and confidently diagnose a set of symptoms as a disease," Estes said. "Although this brings great advantages in treating diseases early, it obviously has massive disadvantages if the diagnosis is actually wrong. In many cases, a more open approach to categorizing or diagnosing would be more effective."

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about women and men.

Posted: April 2011


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