Friday, January 20, 2012

Women Be Shopping

News out this month to surprise absolutely no one who has ever met another human being: men and women are not the same.

Yes, apparently it’s taken science to confirm what every sub-par stand-up comedian appears to have been onto for a while now.

The source of this astonishing claim is a study published on the Public Library of Science website and called “The distance between Mars and Venus: measuring global sex differences in personality”.

The boffins behind this study crunched the numbers on personality tests taken by 10,000 people. And in a break from past research – which suggested the personality differences between men and women were minimal – found men and women have firmly entrenched characteristics.

Living up to stereotypes women scored higher than man on sensitivity, warmth and apprehension, meaning they’re more likely be sentimental, deferential, attentive to others and worry more. On the flipside men scored higher on dominance, aggression and - though I can scarcely believe it - emotional stability.

The two sexes were roughly the same when it came to perfectionism, liveliness and abstract versus practical thinking.

Obviously it’s worth pointing out that the findings do not, of course, apply to everyone. There are plenty of aggressive and dominant women out there who don’t give a fuck about anyone just as there are sentimental men I could mention who go to pieces while watching Beaches. I won’t name names.

Nor are the findings uncontested, particularly by the scientists behind past research, who have criticised the methodology behind the latest study.

Not being a scientist (I know - I surprise you) I won’t make any claim for the veracity of this latest study’s findings.

What I DO wonder is who, exactly, is funding this kind of research? And, more importantly, why?

Probably I'm being too cynical and this kind of research is making a valid contribution to society's collective knowledge.

But it seems to me the only people who benefit from this kind of bogus pseudoscience are the journalists, who use these kind of studies to write harmlessly inane dross like this, this and this. (As my favourite character from my new guilty pleasure TV show Happy Endings might say "Women Be Shopping".)

Of course now I've written about it on this bloody blog, thus adding to the collective inanity. Sometimes I hate myself.

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