Men are more variable than women: they tend to have extreme social, risk and time preferences

Men are more variable than women: they tend to have extreme social, risk and time preferences

On some measures, men and women differ on average, but what appears to be is that men tend to be more variable than women , that is, they have more individuals at each extreme.

A new study evidence specifically suggests greater male variability in time, risk, and social preferences.

Variability hypothesis

The male variability hypothesis states that males show greater variability in most traits than females. Sex differences in variability are present in many abilities and traits, including physical, psychological, and genetic. It is not only found in humans, but also in other sexually selected species.

This occurs, for example, with intelligence: women have a higher average IQ, but among men there are individuals with lower IQ but also higher IQ. The neurophysiologist at the University of Oxford, Susan Greenfield , points out that in the statistics, above 145 points , generally only one woman appears for every eight men .

A new study adds to those that already exist regarding this hypothesis. In a meta-analysis of experimental economics studies with more than 50,000 individuals in 97 samples, convergent evidence was found that men are more likely to have extreme time, risk, and social preferences, while women are more likely to have extreme weather preferences. moderate. In some cases, greater male variability was found in addition to mean differences; in some cases, only greater male variability .

These findings suggest that theories of gender differences are incomplete if they do not consider how the complex interplay of differences between genders and variability within gender determines options and differential outcomes between women and men:

We found that men were much more likely than women to be at the extreme ends of the behavioral spectrum, either acting very selfish or very altruistic, very trusting or very suspicious, very fair or very unfair, very risky or very reluctant to do so. risk and were focused on the very short or very long term.

These gender differences in variability are difficult to detect in research focused on gender differences in average behaviors. This is why they have been overlooked in most previous research, which traditionally focused on mean gender differences rather than range of behaviors. However, we must look at the differences in extreme behaviors to understand what might be driving those outliers .

A 2007 meta-analysis also found that men are more variable on most measures of quantitative and visuospatial ability, without drawing conclusions about their causality. And a 2008 analysis of test scores in 41 countries published in Science found that "data shows greater variation in boys ‘than girls’ scores on math and reading tests in most countries in the world. the OECD "and the results imply that" gender differences in test scores variation are an international phenomenon. " However, it also found that several countries did not show a gender difference in variance .

This gives us a clue as to the complexity of finding the reason for the variability hypothesis: it may have genetic roots, but it may also be affected by parenting mode, social expectations, and other factors .