Sex Gender and Personality

The Science and Politics of Studying Sex and Gender

History of the Study of Sex Dif ferences

Calculation of Effect Size: How Lar ge Are the Sex Dif ferences? Minimalists and Maximalists

Sex Differences in Personality

Temperament in Children Five-Factor Model

Basic Emotions: Frequency and Intensity Other Dimensions of Personality

Masculinity, Femininity, Androgyny, and Sex Roles

The Search for Androgyny Gender Stereotypes

Theories of Sex Differences

Socialization and Social Roles Hormonal Theories Evolutionary Psychology Theory An Integrated Theoretical Perspective

Summary and Evaluation Key Terms





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"An important book.„Pip{>tr i high-bran bcadlijlits ou ibr müHd of leeiuge girit* —Lot Arrgc/a Ttmn espite the advances of feminism, escalating levels of sexism and violence—from undervalued intelligence to sexual harassment in elementary school—cause girls to stifle their creative spirit and natural impulses, which ulti mately destroys their self-esteem" (Pipher, 1994, bookjacket). This is a quotation from the book Reviving Ophelia, which remained on the best-seller list for an astonishing 135 weeks (Kling et al., 1999). The sentiment expresses widespread belief that women suffer lower self-esteem than men do and that this dif ference in adult personality is caused by destructive events during development.

Although we cannot know with certainty why Reviving Ophelia remained popular for so long, several possibilities warrant consideration. First, people are intrinsically fascinated with psychological sex differences: average differences between women and men in personality or behavior . The popular press and other mass media frequently pick up scientific findings of sex d ferences. Second, many people are concerned with the political implications of findings of sex di ferences. Will such findings be used to foster gender stereotypes? Will such findings be used t oppress women? And, third, people are concerned with the practical implications of sex differences for their everyday lives. Will knowledge of sex dif ferences help us, for example, understand and communicate better with others?

This chapter focuses centrally on the scientific issues, but it also discusses th broader debate about the scientific findings Are women and men basically dif fer-ent or basically the same when it comes to personality? Have the dif ferences been

The popular book Reviving Ophelia suggested that the differences in personality between adult men and women are the result of specific events that occur in adolescence.

exaggerated because of stereotypes people have about what women are like and what men are like? What theories provide compelling explanations for sex-linked features of personality? In this chapter , we will answer these questions by exploring what researchers have determined about sex dif ferences. As used in this book, the term sex differences simply refers to an average dif ference between women and men on certain characteristics, such as height, body fat distribution, or personality characteristics, with no prejudgment about the cause of the dif ference.

We will begin by briefly sketching the history of the study of sex di ferences in personality. This background information will show you how complex this topic is: indeed, we will see that the very definition of gender, or social interpretations of what it means to be a man or a woman, can change over time. Next, we will look at some of the techniques psychologists use to tease out sex dif ferences from research data. This will allow you to understand what sex differences really mean and what they imply in the real world.

After we have briefly explored this background of the study of sex and gende , we will see what the topic means to personality psychology by discussing sex dif fer-ences in traits such as assertiveness, criminality , and sexuality. We will use these differences to explore the fascinating topic of gender stereotypes: beliefs about how men and women dif fer or are supposed to dif fer, in contrast to what the actual differences are. Finally, we will explore theories that attempt to explain the reasons for these sex dif ferences. When you reach the end of the chapter , you should have a deeper understanding of what it means to be a woman or a man—how they are the same, as well as how they are dif ferent.

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