Sex differences in personality

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Gender Variations in Personality Traits

Gender variations in personality traits have been studied by psychologists, with varying results. For example, there is a previous study that resulted in the Big Five model, in which gender disparities become apparent at some point (Cattell, 1990; Allport, 1937; & Eysenck, 1998).

Neuroticism and Withdrawal

Women scored higher than males on the topic of withdrawal and instability when it comes to neuroticism. However, this does not erase the reality that each has different characteristics that neither shares. Women are reported to have higher levels of anxiety, depression, self-awareness, and blame than men (Costa et al., 2001).

While these features load fundamentally on withdrawal as opposed to volatility, the trend is in tandem with the clinical reality where depression and nervousness are somewhat common among women than men.

Volatility and Hostility

On the contrary, the lack of significant gender disparities in Volatility, when monitoring for withdrawal, is largely due to the fact that a vital element of Volatility is the penchant to be impatient and easily infuriated (Costa et al., 2001). But studies indicate just how men have often exhibited the highest degree of Hostility than women.

Agreeableness and Compassion

On the issue of Agreeableness with respect to compassion and politeness, significant gender disparities are evident. The gender variance in Agreeableness may be linked to gender disparities in self-construal, where men have a strong sense of self that is exclusive from the mental representation of others. On the other hand, women are somewhat interdependent as such; manifest a sense of otherness (Costa et al., 2001).

Moreover, this gender alteration is related to the motivational and behavioral disparities where women have more interconnected social clusters than men. As such, women are largely motivated than men to preserve social and emotional ties through agreeable traits. Conversely, studies indicate that women are more enthusiastic than men, in retrospect; men are more assertive than women.

Understanding Gender Differences

While Allport (1937) started his work by reducing 18,000 traits, Cattell (1990) opposed this approach and came up with factor analysis to understand gender differences. Nonetheless, understanding gender differences is important to recognize variability patterns. In any case, Allport fails to present an explanation of all human personalities and simply focused on predictive theory. As such, Allport (1937) overlooks other useful aspects of understanding gender differences including masculinity/femininity; sexiness/seductiveness; religiosity; conservative; among others.

The Use of Factor Analysis

Specifically, Cattell (1990) used factor analysis to assess the relationships among traits while identifying the most useful ones. However, factor analysis not only lacks a universal basis for selecting but also relies on the interpretations. In addition, it does not depend on any theory; it is simply an empirical finding.

Role of Genetics and Biological Elements

On the other hand, Eysenck (1998) focused on gender differences based on genetics as well as biological elements. Trait perspective has the ability to group observable characters. While the trait perspective uses goal criteria for not only categorizing by also measuring behaviors, variability over various conditions are useful when it comes to understanding gender differences.

Understanding Behaviors and Situational Factors

Furthermore, traits are not adequate in predicting a person's behaviors. Situational factors are vital in determining behaviors in comparison to traits; other psychologists allege that situational factors and traits can influence behaviors. For that reason, variability patterns of different conditions are essential in determining gender differences. Trait theories use subjective self-reports and require that a person is introspective to recognize behaviors. Additionally, a person has to spend adequate time observing another individual in different situations to present a detailed and correct assessment. However, these measures are not only subjective but also biased as well as inaccurate.

Trait theories fail to provide an explanation why people behave in a certain manner. Instead, they focus on individual's information and traits that cause specific behaviors. Nevertheless, there is nothing to show why the traits present in the manner they do. For instance, extroverted persons are motivated by social interactions, but trait theories do not provide an explanation why introverts avoid such conditions.


Allport, G. W. (1937). Personality: A Psychological Interpretation. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston. New York.

Cattell, R. B. (1990). Handbook of Personality: Theory and Research. Chapter Advances in Cattellian personality theory. Guilford Press. New York. 101-110 Pages. L. A. Pervin (Ed.).

Costa Jr, P., Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R. (2001). Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: robust and surprising findings.

Eysenck, H. (1998). Dimensions of Personality. Transaction. Piscataway, NJ.

April 19, 2023

Sociology Psychology


Identity Learning

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