The sex of decisions

The success of the “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” concept arises from the fact that we all suspect that there are some basic gender differences in how we experience life. We all intuitively feel the differences to be there and so when a study comes along that quantifies the difference we can all bask in the warm glow of intuitions confirmed. So get ready to warm your hands by the embers of self-satisfaction as we examine a study that has shown women and men are fundamentally different in the way that they make decisions.

For the research people were asked whether each of 50 different objects fitted partially, fully, or not at all into certain categories. The objects chosen were ones likely to raise debate as to how to categorise them.

For example, the question was asked whether a tomato is a fruit? Another question was, “Is a paint brush a tool?”

The results divided along gender lines. Men were more likely to make absolute category judgements such as a whether a tomato is a fruit or not. Women however were less hard and fast and tended to say, for instance, that tomatoes “sort of” belong in the fruit category. Generally women were much more nuanced in their responses whereas men made black and white judgements.

The researchers fell over themselves to point out that one method of decision making is not intrinsically better than the other. They did give the example that a male doctor might be more likely to quickly and confidently make a diagnosis but that would have massive disadvantages if the diagnosis is actually wrong.

So that leaves us with further reinforcement to the notion that men and women are different and motivation to rework the old adage slightly to: males rush in where women fear to tread.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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