Researchers Find That Popular Assumptions About Gender Difference Are Incredibly Easily Disproved
Lies Damned Lies
Guys are mostly look for attractiveness in a significant other, right? And women just want someone with cash. Guys also want to sleep with more partners than women do, and it’s no reason, since they also think about sex waaaaaaay more. Everybody knows that.
Well, turns out that a lot of what everybody knows, and what everybody thought was supported by some statistical or scientific evidence, is actually pretty sparsely supported by facts, and the evidence gets pretty flimsy when you reframe those experiments to work better with the data and human nature.
Lets take the idea that men want flesh and women want cash; studies have shown that men tend to stress physical appearance while women stress status when talking about hypothetical partners.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, when the object of one’s potential affection shifted from ideal to actual, gender differences in preferred qualities of partners disappeared. Specifically, attractiveness and status were found to be equally important to men and women when considering actual dating partners (both in initial speed-dating encounters and a month after those encounters) across a variety of dependent measures (Eastwick & Finkel, 2008). Moreover, gender differences in preferences for status and attractiveness were absent in the judgments of current romantic partners as well (Eastwick, Finkel, & Eagly, in press).
Then there’s the idea that men want to sleep around more than women do:
It’s true that if you ask men and women how many partners they want over their lifetimes, the men’s average response will be higher. This may be because a few men are aspiring Wilt Chamberlains and report that they want to bed thousands of ladies. Using medians instead of averages eliminates the skewing effect of “grossly large numbers of sexual partners desired” by a few men, and yields a surprising result. Say Conley et al, “The use of medians revealed that the majority of men and women desire a similar number of sexual partners: one.”
Then there’s the common assumption that men think about sex way more than women do. This one is actually true! It just leaves out one crucial detail:
When scientists asked male and female undergrads to use counters to record the number of times they thought about food, sex, and sleep during a week, guys did count up more sex thoughts. However, they also counted more thoughts about food and sleep.
Turns out men are just more comfortable with looking out for their own interests, which researchers actually considered healthy, citing relevant studies showing that women are conditioned to be more attentant to the needs of others, to the extent that they often put their own needs second.
Gender sterotypes: they are bad for everybody. But that’s only three of the gender assumptions Terri D. Conley, Amy C. Moors, Jes L. Matsick, Ali Ziegler and Brandon A. Valentine. Read more at Jezebel.
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