An Overview of Sex Differences in Personality

Differences between men and women are evident on scales designed to measure sex role identification. Differences for these scales occur in the obvious direction (males are more Masculine, females more Feminine) in part because of the way in which the scales were created. Sex differences are also present in scales measuring aspects of personality not directly related to sex roles. Men, in comparison with women, obtain scores which indicate that they are more Assertive, less Anxious, have higher Self-Esteem and a greater sense of agency (Internal Locus of Control).

On the basis of a meta-analysis of the norms for commonly used personality inventories including the MMPI, Cattell's 16 PF, and the NEO PI-R, Feingold (1994) reached several broad conclusions as to sex differences in personality. Scales from all tests were realigned with the facets of the NEO Personality Inventory. Feingold (1994) concluded that, by and large, females scored higher than males on scales addressing Anxiety (a facet or subscale of Neuroticism), Gregariousness (a facet of Extraversion), and Trust and Tender-Mindedness (facets of Agreeableness) but lower than males on scales addressing Assertiveness (another facet of Extraversion). These differences were stable over tests, time, and a variety of samples.

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