Concluding Overview

With the qualifications outlined above, research has revealed several robust but small sex differences in emotion, personality, and psychopathology. The differences included in Table 1 have appeared with some consistency across both times and cultures, and have been validated in a variety of experiments. Differences are categorized

Table 1. Stable Sex Differences in Personality, Emotion, and Psychopathologya

Categories and measures High scoring group Countries/cultures other than North Americab

Femininity Women

Masculinity Men

Agency/Activation Men


Internal Locus of Control



Diagnoses Related to Anger

Boldness/Excitement Seeking

Openness to Ideas





Friendliness/Gregariousness Women


Positive Affect



Agreeableness Openness to Feelings Tender-Mindedness Warmth/Nurturance Sensitivity

Anxiety/Depression Women


Diagnoses Related to Anxiety Depression

Diagnoses Related to Depression




Mating Criteria

Good Health Men

Good Looks

Good Housekeeping Skills Ambition/Industriousness Women

Financial Prospects Similar Education/Background

Australia, Canada, Holland, Hong Kong India

Canada, China, Finland

American Samoa, Belize, Kenya, Nepal, Six Cultures0

25d 25

Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Russia, 25 Six Cultures

Africa, Asian Countries, India, Middle East

Canada, Finland, Russia, 25

Canada, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia, 25 25

Canada, Finland, Germany, Poland, Russia, 25 Six Cultures, 25

Israel, Sweden, Canada, India, Thailand, 25 China, 25 Canada, Finland a This is a lexical summary of sex differences. Individual terms have been preserved in order to illustrate research findings, but there is some overlap among terms used. Tender-mindedness, for example, is a facet of Agreeableness on one test and a distinct dimension of another; Anxiety is both a facet of Neuroticism and a scale and diagnosis in its own right. b All differences in Table 1 have been reported in North American studies. Additional countries and cultures exhibiting the differences (as per articles referenced) are cited in the third column. The list of studies employed is limited so differences may exist that have not been included above.

c The Six Cultures are the Nyansongo, Juxtlahuaca, Tarong, Taira, Khalapur, and Orchard Town (Whiting et al., 1975). d The 25 cultures are those discussed by Costa et al. (2001) and include a wide variety of groups from Croatians through African and European South Africans to Peruvians, Estonians, and Malaysians. There were also significant intercultural differences.

into subareas representing Agency and Aggression (where men generally score higher), Friendliness and Gregariousness (where women score higher), Anxiety and Depression (where women also score higher), and Mating Criteria (where men and women score higher on different sets of criteria). These differences are certainly multidetermined, with both nature and nurture contributing to the observed effects, and not necessarily in the same proportion to all effects.

Future meta-analyses might fruitfully investigate the relative or proportional contributions of different influences to sex differences, taking their cue from work such as that of Moore et al. (1999) that partitioned the semantic structure of emotion words in terms of culturally shared meaning, culturally specific meaning, and individual differences and error. Researchers might also choose to address the role that culture plays in sex differences by aligning cultures along several dimensions, taking their cue from the Six Cultures Project (Whiting et al., 1975) which not only studied relatively simple cultures but also quantified them in ways that were seen to be related to emotional behaviors (cultural simplicity predicted nurturant/responsible actions while a more nuclear household structures predicted greater sociable intimacy).

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