The Fundamental Difference between Men and Women, Part 3: Personality and Behavior
I hypothesize that the key difference between men and women is that men favor convergence and its product, whereas women favor divergence and its product. I define convergence as the process of putting information together. The product is all things general. Divergence is taking information apart, and its product is all things specific. In this article, I will show what that means for the personality and behavior of a typical man and woman.
My supporting evidence is everything that we suspect, assume, stereotype, or generalize to be characteristic of men or women. Disclaimer: if you do not accept that there exist traits that hold true for the majority of men or women, then you are going to have a bad time reading this article. You will constantly be saying, “Oh that’s not true,” or “You don’t know that,” or “Then how come I know a guy that [insert outlying anecdote here].” This hypothesis applies to the average man or woman, so exceptions/outliers will exist. I expect you to have an understanding of the normal distribution, a.k.a. the bell curve, because it is extremely relevant in any discussion regarding a measurable trait (of humans). For instance, estrogen hormone level. It’s silly how people can accept a generalization regarding the body, for instance, “Most women have breasts,” but they cannot accept one regarding personality and behavior. If I say, “Most women like to shop for clothes,” then I’m considered a sexist, misogynist, or ignoramus. If you were offended by that general statement—meaning it applies for most women but not all—then you should stop reading. For brevity, I’ll often say “men” when I really mean “most men but not all,” and “women” when I really mean “most women but not all.” I won’t repeat this disclaimer.
How does a man’s attention to general information manifest itself in the realm of personality and behavior? If I had to summarize the male personality in one word, it would be “universal.” A man has a “universal behavior.” Men think objectively. How does attention to specific information manifest itself? In one word, the female personality is “situational,” which leads to situational behavior. The way women think is “if that, then this.” I know these phrases don’t make much sense at the moment but bear with me.
Contrary to the face and body, personality and behavior unravel over time. Personality and behavior are experiences as opposed to “products.” Thus, I depict them horizontally as opposed to vertically:
Because personality and behavior present themselves over time, they cater to serial processing, which is what divergence is all about. Women pay attention to personality and behavior when it comes to judging a character, finding a mate, self-improvement, etc. Men prefer parallel processing (i.e. convergence) which is why men favor looks over personality and behavior.
Before I get into examples, I want to refresh you on my hypothesis on neurons in the brain because this is arguably the root of one’s personality. I hypothesize that men think objectively because they have high dendrite usage and low axon terminal usage. I believe this is due to the fact that men have a high amount of testosterone and a low amount of estrogen flowing in the brain. I hypothesize that women have the opposite: high axon terminal usage and low dendrite usage, which causes them to think subjectively. Of course, not every woman is going to have a “feminine mind” (i.e. high axon terminal usage) and not every man is going to have a “masculine mind” (i.e. high dendrite usage). I actually believe many men today have emasculate minds. I could be 100% politically-correct and constantly say “a person with a high testosterone-to-estrogen ratio” rather than “man,” and vice versa for women, but I’m not going to bother. Here is a good example to summarize my hypothesis on neuron usage:
If you replace the numbers with people, places, things, or periods of time, you get a summary of male and female personality and behavior. So instead of a formula, at the nucleus would be general concepts that hold true for all “data points.” This is how men see the world. A good example of this is how men rate the physical attractiveness of women on a scale of 1-10. Looking at the area that women favor, you’ll notice a lot of “ifs.” This is how women see the world. Things are dependent on the condition, context, or situation.
Universal vs. Situational Behavior
Men favor universal behavior and disfavor situational behavior. Women are the opposite: they favor situational behavior and disfavor universal behavior. These are terms I made up. Universal behavior is acting in the same, consistent manner all the time. Situational (or contextual or “if that then this”) behavior is acting according to the situation, like a chameleon adapting to different environments. A situation can come from a person, place, thing, or period of time. Basically, the way women think is “if Person W, then I do this; if Person Y, then I do that.” For men, it’s “Always do this (regardless of the situation).” Women ask themselves, “[You know] what would be good right now [with this company, at this place, during this time of day]?” Men ask themselves, “What would always be good?” Not all men have universal behavior, but most men at least strive for it or recognize that it is ideal male behavior. The same is true for women and situational behavior.
How are these behaviors explained at the neuron level? For men, the neural network looks a bit like this:
Many neurons (i.e. concepts of different people) are attached to a single neuron’s dendrites. This single neuron takes in all these “people” simultaneously, and as a result there is just one way to act—a universal behavior. If these people were taken in one-by-one there would be an opportunity to act depending on the current encounter—situational behavior. This is how women act, and the neural network looks a bit like this:
Here, a single neuron’s axon terminals are attached to many neurons (i.e. concepts of different people). This single neuron is sending out different signals. The information contained in the signal (i.e. the particular behavior) depends on which neuron is receiving. Going back to the math example, it’s like plugging in “orange person,” or a value for x, into the formula and getting back “behavior for orange person,” or f(x).
For example, when a woman encounters a baby, she will start talking to him/her in “baby talk.” This is that high-pitched, up and down cooing speech. As researchers such as M. VanDam of WSU have shown in experiments, when a man encounters a baby he won’t change his speech. Most men will continue to speak normally and quickly lose interest in him/her. A man is not willing to change himself just so that one baby can better understand him. This also goes for talking to pets. Men are well aware that their speech is difficult for smaller brains to understand. “Get on my level,” as they say, is basically how a man thinks and acts, or at least strives to think and act. A woman hops onto many different levels.
Many men find situational behavior to be mind-boggling. One of the biggest mysteries about women may be why they love shopping for clothes so much. Well, clothes allow a person to adapt to different situations. When women shop they’re thinking, “Will this outfit be fit for the occasion?” Clothes are to match with the weather, season, or society-defined situations, such as casual get-together, cute date, flirty, etc. The bigger a woman’s wardrobe, the more situations she can fit into. The more situations she adapts to, the more feminine I consider her to be. Men disregard all these situations and prefer clothes that work universally. For men there is simply shirt and pants, with more layers needed in colder weather. I think most women would find this disregard for situations to be mind-boggling.
Situational behavior works with an “arsenal of tools” at your disposal, usually in the form of a wardrobe or a purse. I always imagine situational behavior as a woman walking around with a fat purse, pulling different things out at the different times. Have you ever wondered why women carry purses with everything imaginable inside? The reasoning behind this is that it allows them to adapt to any situation that may arise. On the other hand, men just bring money, keys, and a smartphone. There is definitely a correlation between the Y chromosome and minimalism. Society often associates manliness with Swiss army knives, toolboxes, and power tools, but I beg to differ. These “arsenals” contain specialized tools for specific situations. So what would be a manly tool? A single item that can be used in a multitude of ways: a knife or a stick. Another way to summarize universal behavior is “one for all.” One consistent demeanor for all situations. Does this mean situational behavior is “all for one”? No, albeit less eloquent, female behavior is “one for one, another one for another one...”
You may assume that men are better than women at all positions in all sports. I’ve found that this isn’t true for hockey coaches, among others. See, the role of a hockey coach is to adapt to situations that unfold on the ice by putting out certain players and calling back others. His bench of players is akin to a woman’s purse. Five seconds left on the clock, faceoff near your goal, the game is on the line, what do you do? Put out your best faceoff man. Based on this role, I believe women would be better hockey coaches than men. If the role of a coach was to instruct players on how to play hockey, however, then there would no longer be a distinct female advantage.
If a person is sick, then they are to lie in bed, sip warm soup, and ingest a lot of vitamin C. This is pretty much standard procedure in modern society, yet it probably has zero scientific bearing. Anyway—I believe it is more common for women to follow this than men, because it is situational behavior. What does a man want to do when sick? A man would not want a drastic change in behavior; he would probably do everything he already does but likely with less vigor and more downtime. A man would take his foot off the gas, whereas a woman would shift to reverse. This is not a 100% accurate analogy, but the point is that men think in spectrums, scales, etc., while women think in terms of “if” and “then.”
If someone has a medical issue, a woman would tell that person to go to the doctor. A man probably wouldn’t. It’s not that men hate doctors or medicine, or that men are stupid. A man simply doesn’t think in “if that, then this.” He may try to figure it out on his own. If acne problem, go see dermatologist. If foot problem, go see podiatrist. A man may think, “Well, I’ve gotten a stress fracture on my finger before… I can probably treat this foot pain, which feels similar, the same way.” I think men have good general understanding of how things work. Women, on the other hand, pass it onto the specialist. Due to the overwhelming amount of specialization in goods and services today, I think today’s society really caters to the situational way of thinking.
Even video game preferences show universal vs. situational behavior. Most men like first-person shooters. This isn’t because of the violence, blood, or guns—unless we’re talking about a ten-year-old boy. It’s the way first-person shooters are set up: there are many simultaneous (unique) players attacking or defending a central objective; there are many teammates and enemies on the screen at any time. This disallows you to take on each player on an individual basis and adapt to each player’s weapon or class. This forces you to use parallel processing and develop a universal manner of playing. Women prefer games where you can adapt to unique situations. The best example of this is probably Pokémon. Here, you encounter many different types of Pokémon, one-by-one, each with a strength and weakness against another type of Pokémon. To excel at this game, you must change your own Pokémon type to gain an advantage. For instance, if fighting a fire Pokémon, then use your water Pokémon. The game encourages you to use serial processing and develop situational behavior.
I can go on all day with examples of universal vs. situational behavior. To summarize, women adapt to different people: if a person has a certain status or position, then act like so; if person is a stranger, be cautious and quiet; if person is a familiar friend, open up. Women adapt to different places: “when in Rome, do as Romans do”; if fancy venue, dress formal; seek social cues in new environments; abide by local rules. Women adapt to different things: adhere to etiquette of another culture. Women adapt to periods of time: fashion trends, seasons, etc. Men take no part in these adaptations and instead try to develop a behavior that is universally-applicable: “No matter who I’m talking to, I’m talking like this.” “No matter where I am, I’m acting like this.”
Objective vs. Subjective Personality
The definition of an objective perspective is to view and judge things without bias. The definition of a subjective perspective is your own personal point of view. Objective and subjective personality are terms I made up that mean just about the same thing as universal and situational behavior. To have an objective personality is to view and judge something based on its substance/content (i.e. no bias). To have a subjective personality is to view and judge something based on the status, position, credentials, reputation, etc. of the person involved (i.e. bias). A man has, or at least tries to have, an objective personality. A woman has a subjective personality.
For a woman, it’s all about a person’s reputation, status, or position in society because this determines her next course of action. For example, if an attractive guy makes a joke, she will laugh even if it wasn’t funny. If her friend posts a status update, she’ll click “Like” even if it was stupid. If she’s reading an article that’s been labeled as a crackpot theory, she’ll ignore it or seek disproof. If she’s reading a theory written by a professor with academic credentials, she’ll pay attention and seek proof. If a little kid gets crazy on the dance floor, she would think this is cute and awesome. Now, a man, on the other hand, would say, “Anyone can do that.” While this is true, it was special because it was a little kid doing it. A man disregards this and compares the kid’s act to all people. It’s not that men miss the point; they simply judge everything objectively.
A thing can also carry a reputation. When it comes to buying a smartphone or laptop, women strongly consider brand reputation. “Apple makes good laptops so I should get an Apple laptop.” Men despise brand loyalty. To favor a product simply because it was made by certain name brand is considered a big no-no in the tech crowd. You would be called a “fanboy”—an insult. Instead, men strive for objectivity: an unbiased comparison of features and performance of all latest models from all brands. Cartoons are another example. Many people dismiss them as childish simply because they are in cartoon animation form, which is meant for kids. There is a chance, however, that the show actually has sophisticated and complex humor, like in SpongeBob or The Simpsons. A man with a masculine mind will look beyond status and judge a show on its substance. Or, when a video clip has an overwhelming amount of negative votes—a poor reputation—many people take this into consideration as they watch the video. “Real men” overlook the negative—or positive—reputation and judge it based on its content.
In music, a man (with an objective personality) would enjoy music from all genres. He wouldn’t hate a song because it was sung by a boy band whose target audience is teenage girls. He wouldn’t restrict himself to rap or indie music simply because the cool people listen to it. He judges every song objectively, and as a result, his music collection spans many genres and many artists, like the Top 40s. A woman (with a subjective personality) pays more attention to the genre or artist name and their reputation. If a woman likes a certain artist’s song, she will be inclined to also like the artist’s other songs, or their future releases—bias.
Men are often commended when they “don’t give a fuck.” This is basically when a man does something in front of people that most would consider weird or strange. An example of this would be listening to, singing along to, or dancing to his favorite boy band songs in public. Or, rollerblading around town, since rollerblading has developed a gay connotation. If a man truly enjoys it, he will disregard how the public perceives him and just do it. “Beta males” and women, on the other hand, pay attention to what society deems as appropriate, and constantly change their behavior to align with this.
A subjective personality is definitely related to the self-fulfilling prophecy and placebo effect. For example, macaroni and cheese served in a five-star restaurant, on a ceramic plate, with sprig of parsley and silverware is likely to taste better than the same macaroni and cheese eaten out of a microwavable cup. This is because people with subjective personalities take into account reputation and status. With an objective personality, all these extraneous variables are disregarded and the macaroni and cheese is judged without bias. Since women pay attention to reputation, status, and position more than men, I believe they are more “susceptible” to the placebo effect.
People are often accused of “comparing apples and oranges.” In reality, any two things are fair game for comparison so long as a commonality exists between them. Oftentimes the accuser just isn’t seeing this commonality as clearly as the person they’re accusing. For example, both apples and oranges have sugar content, so their sweetness is comparable. They also both have a degree of difficulty when it comes to eating them, so their convenience is also comparable. These are traits that men pay attention to because of their objective personality. On the other hand, apples and oranges have distinct flavor and consistency. These traits aren’t comparable. That is, there’s no such thing as a scale for flavors like there is for sweetness. These are the traits that women and men with “female minds” pay attention to because of their subjective personality. One with a subjective personality is likely to dismiss valid comparisons on grounds of “apples to oranges.”
When arguing or debating, women (and men with feminine minds) often retaliate by attacking one’s character rather than sticking to the subject matter. For example, Jack says, “Tomatoes are technically fruits.” Jill responds, “Jack, you barely graduated high school. Why should we listen to you?” Jill has committed what is known as the ad hominem logical fallacy. These personal attacks are a big reason why many consider women to be “emotional creatures.” Why do women do this? Because, in the female mind, a person’s reputation or credentials are very important when it comes to judging their “content”—if that then this. If the name is reputable then it follows that their content will be good. If they have a bad reputation then what they say or do will be bad. So, in an argument, a personal attack on someone is their attempt to invalidate the actual point. Men on the other hand disregard name and reputation and stick to the substance.
Women are often criticized for their lack of objectivity. On the internet, it’s called “women logic” or “female logic.” A classic example of this is when a woman sees a man sitting alone, keeping quiet, and looking around. If the guy is handsome then his behavior would be seen as brooding and mysterious—hot. If the guy is ugly then he would come off as a creepy, shy, awkward loser. Or, say a good-looking guy serenades a girl with his guitar on her front lawn. How romantic! But if he’s ugly? How pathetic! What does this say about women? It doesn’t mean that women are shallow and base attractiveness on appearance as men do—appearance is simply all the information that has been presented thus far. After a woman spends time with a man, I firmly believe that his attractiveness would be mostly based on personality and behavior. It does mean that women hold every person to a different standard or, in other words, there is no standard. To a woman, every person is a unique situation and thus treated as such. This gives good-looking men an “unfair” advantage. So women are terrible people, right? Not exactly...
Men are “Jerks” and Women are “Nice”
To a man’s friends and family, he can often seem like a jerk. Men judge content based on content—not based on who produced it. Men are “name-blind.” Men do not favor things that came from friends or family members. For example, say a man’s good friend has started an iron smelting company and wants him to “Like” the company on Facebook. This man really does not care about iron smelting, therefore he won’t become a fan of the company. Women and beta males, on the other hand, are all about supporting people they know. For them, it’s all about the relationship, not the content. Their motto is, “I’ll support you in whatever you do.” Furthermore, how close their relationship is determines how much they will like his or her endeavors/products. For alpha males, it’s the other way around. It’s all about the content, not the relationship. How much they like the content determines how much they support the person.
Men try to be consistent in their interests, values, and principles. If a man doesn’t like iron smelting, he won’t like it when a friend begs him to like it. He does not spare people’s feelings. He’s not afraid to say no or tell someone when they’re wrong. Women and emasculate men try to please everybody. This is accomplished by changing their interests, values, and principles as they go along. For example, say a man likes pop music and hates jazz. This man has a good friend that’s a jazz musician, and she has invited him to her concert. He would be a jerk if he does not go to the concert, but he would be staying true to his interests. If he goes to the concert just to support his friend, he would be a nice guy, or a beta male, or a woman. A woman neglects consistency in her interests and principles, which allows her to easily adapt to situations. A man only supports things that are congruent with his interests and principles.
Say, for example, a woman is
telling everyone about her newborn son’s adventures. Her female friends are
intrigued by all of this, because of the child’s special status: he’s the
newborn child of their dear friend. Her male friends, however, do not give a
crap about Little Timmy’s first shower. Some of them may feign interest to be
nice. A few of them may genuinely be interested because they have (effeminate)
subjective personalities. A “real man” does not care who you are (i.e. status),
where you’re coming from (i.e. position), what you did (i.e. reputation),
Friends and family fall under (relationship) status, but there’s also people with unique positions and reputations that demand special attention. The most common instance of men changing behavior would be their interactions with attractive women. Beta males, a.k.a. “white knights,” “put the pussy on a pedestal.” I think most men are aware that this is not ideal, alpha-male behavior but cannot resist. For example, if a beautiful woman spills her drink on a man’s shirt, he would say it’s fine. If it had been man spilling his drink, he would be up in arms. If it had been an ugly woman, many men would be up in one arm. This man is taking on the typically-female situational behavior. Most men strive for a universal behavior, though, which means treating everyone the same. If someone dying of cancer made a painting, women and beta males would say the painting is amazing, beautiful, etc. regardless of how the painting actually looks. A man, however, would judge the painting objectively: “It looks like something from a kindergarten class.”
A man with an objective personality does not mean he’s always rude. In the same way that he does not look up to people of high status in society, he does not look down on people of low status. Thus, in a discussion, he doesn’t ignore an opinion because it was voiced by someone with a bad reputation. In an online community, he doesn’t overlook posts written by a person with no reputation points. He is objective. He does not give special treatment to friends and family members, which is something that outsiders, strangers, newcomers, etc. can appreciate.
Focus on Community/Population vs. Individual
Men may also be seen as jerks because they disregard the individual and instead focus on the community, group, team, or population. Women disregard these and instead focus on the individual, as depicted:
Why? Interacting with a group of people simultaneously uses parallel processing (i.e. convergence), whereas interacting with people one-on-one uses serial processing (i.e. divergence). When you interact with groups of people, you deal with commonalities, averages, and general truths. This is what men like to work with. When you interact with people on an individual basis, you deal with the uniqueness and differences among people. This is what women like work with. Just look at the professions that most women are interested in. They want to be nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, counselors, special-needs teachers, etc. There are two trends in these jobs: you deal with people one-by-one; and you adapt to very unique individuals (e.g. the sick, the mentally-disabled, the elderly, etc.). It is no surprise to me that most secretaries are female, because it involves adapting to many different people’s issues on an individual basis. For example, if Adam comes, he is to go to ophthalmologist; if Brad comes, he is to go to optometrist.
When it comes to socializing, men enjoy talking with groups of people because the conversation material is meant for everyone—general. Women prefer talking one-on-one because the conversation can be tailored to the individual. An inside joke, for example. As for reading material, I believe men enjoy reading group discussions with many different perspectives, like the comments section on internet sites. I believe women enjoy reading from individuals but in greater depth. Examples include books, stories, blogs, etc.
Women are individual-oriented whereas men are community-oriented but don’t get it twisted. Most people believe women are more compassionate than men. I don’t think so. I simply believe women care more for the individual, while men care more for the entire family or community, which is often misconstrued as being uncompassionate. It’s not that men don’t like working with people. They are just interested in the “bigger picture.” For example, a man would rather work on producing a smartphone that will used by millions of people than to be helping 3 hospital patients. I’m not saying men want to work in assembly lines. Men want to work on fulfilling the needs of the common person. Women want to work on fulfilling the special needs of the few unique people.
I believe women are more likely than men to take care of and support people who are afflicted with rare disorders, diseases, mental retardation, diabetes, ADHD, etc. Some take it further and convince the government that everyone should spend money on the special needs of these unique individuals. Such programs have an “all-for-one” mentality. As I said before, a woman has a “one for one, another one for another one...” mentality whereas a man has a “one-for-all” mentality. Men care less about these unique individuals, but this doesn’t mean that they’re selfish, as 99% of people today would conclude. Men are more focused on the well-being of the common person’s (i.e. healthy, middle-aged, middle-class), which would decline as a result of any tax-funded program that improves the lives of the outlying few.
I often visualize populations as normal distribution graphs, like these:
Men focus on the average (μ), the common man, the majority, or the middle class. Women focus on the outliers, the minorities, or the very unique individuals. These are the very poor, the very rich, the very dumb, the very smart, the very young, the very old, the very sick, the very healthy, etc. For example, say the above normal distribution graphs represent wealth. A man’s greatest concern is the well-being of the average citizen. He is focused on about 95% of the population. He looks for ways to shift the bell curve to the right or, in other words, raise the average income. A woman’s focus is on the remaining 5% of the population. Her greatest concern is the extremely poor. She looks for ways to chop off the tail on the left of the bell curve so that the poor have the same wealth as the middle class. She also pays a lot of attention to the right tail of the bell curve—the extremely rich.
Let’s satisfy everyone! Men and women have different solutions to this, due to their attention to the average versus the outliers. Say you’re a smartphone designer trying to decide what goes on the “home screen.” Should the alarm clock go there? A man would say yes, because the average person uses it daily. There will be some unique users, however, that don’t want it on the home screen. They may still be using a big old alarm clock. The man says, “These few will just have to deal with it on home screen.” A woman would disagree and say, “The alarm clock shouldn’t be on the home screen. It should be a blank spot for the user to add whatever he/she wants. This way everyone is satisfied.” While it is true that everyone now gets what they want on the home screen, the average user is more irritated for having to manually add such a ubiquitous feature. On the surface it may seem like the woman’s approach is more holistic because it attends to the entire population. This is not true. The woman neglected the average; the man neglected the outliers. The man’s approach covers more of the population. Although this was just one example, the problem of “how to satisfy everyone” comes up often, and men and women have opposing solutions.
Proactive and Leading vs. Reactive and Following
Something you may have deduced from if-that-then-this behavior is that one’s actions are dependent on the “if.” With universal behavior, you act the same way regardless of person, place, thing, or time. This allows men to make the first move! This is why men lead, or at least try to lead, and women follow, or at least try to follow. This is apparent in conversations, dancing, and intimate interactions between a man and a woman. Men are proactive and women are reactive. As I’ve explained, the neuron is “hardwired” this way. The neurons of a typical woman “wait to see” which axon terminal is invoked before responding with an electrical impulse. A man’s neurons aren’t like this. Many believe that men are hardwired to be more aggressive than women. I don’t think this is accurate because aggression implies violence. I believe that men are more assertive, though, or at least try to be.
A big part of “if that then this” behavior is that you will follow or live up to the role that society gives you. I realize this sounds offensive to women but it is the nature of “if that then this” behavior. So if society says that women are the non-violent/peaceful gender, then that is how women will act. If society says video games aren’t meant for women, then women won’t play video games. If society says that ample facial/body hair, a long penis, and tall stature are attractive, masculine characteristics in a mate, then women will desire men with these characteristics. None of these things are timeless truths but they are perpetuated in pop culture. In an alternate universe with biologically-identical humans, women could have completely different interests and lifestyles if society said so. Most men are “immune” to this societal influence. Yes, most men are attracted to big boobs and booty but not because they were told that this is what is attractive. How does one discern between what society says and human nature? One way is to look at different cultures, especially in different time periods.
Men can sometimes be misconstrued as pushovers—a really unattractive behavior for men—when they show indifference to specifics. The best example of this is when a man and woman are trying to decide on what to eat for dinner. On one hand, an assertive alpha-male knows what he wants and gets it. He wants a burrito so they will be eating Mexican food for dinner. A pushover would settle for whatever the woman wants to eat. On the other hand, this alpha-male does not care about small things. And the ethnic origin of one night’s meal is a very small detail in life. So, he’ll often say, “Anything’s fine, you can choose.” Basically, his thoughts/personality is “manly” while his behavior, in this instance, is not. I’ve also seen the opposite: a man that nitpicks at small things, but is assertive about getting it this way. What an incongruent mess.
Fairness vs. Letting Things Slide
Men act on principle. They fight for what is morally right—justice. If a man is ever wronged, he will stand up for himself by fighting back or exacting revenge, or at least try. In many situations, though, this can seem absurd or illogical. Say, for example, you’re at a bar waiting to order a drink when a huge bodybuilder on steroids cuts in front of you. A woman or a beta male would take into account this person’s physical advantage and back down. A man, acting out of principle, would disregard the fact that he’s likely to be beaten to a pulp and confront the jerk. He fights for what’s right. Or, say a restaurant has signs everywhere advertising $5 sandwiches, but when you get to the cash register to pay, the price is actually $5.30. A woman would say, “Oh well, it’s only 30 cents more.” A man would demand the $5 price based on the principle of the matter. 30 cents is no big deal to him, but the restaurant committing an injustice is a big deal—especially because this affects all customers. The employee would then call the manager over, the manager would then phone the boss, his sandwich would get cold, the queue would get long, and on and on. As you can see, standing up for what’s right all the time can be a waste of time and energy—a huge disadvantage to the “masculine mind.”
In 2007, TC Burnham ran an experiment on many male subjects. Each man had his testosterone level measured and was given the following offer: you can receive $5 for free if you agree to let the other male subject in the experiment receive $40 for free. If you were to decline the offer then both of you would both receive $0. The study found that men with high testosterone were more likely to reject this offer for free money than men with low testosterone. It’s obviously irrational to turn down free money, so what’s going through their minds? People with low testosterone (i.e. beta males and women) simply see the free money. They are aware that another person will get more free money than them but disregard this fact. Men with low testosterone say, “Good for him. It doesn’t affect me, so why should I care?” Men with high testosterone say, “Why should another participant receive eight times as much money for doing the exact same thing?” Fairness is very important to people with high testosterone. Why? I hypothesize that a mind full of testosterone leads to greater dendrite usage, which leads to more holistic thoughts. Thus, there is more attention to the big picture and matters that affect all people. I believe high-testosterone men strictly abide by equal treatment for all, whereas low-testosterone men and women are more about pardons and excuses for special people/cases. “Some old man just groped me but it’s okay because he didn’t know any better—he’s old.”
My hypothesis that high-testosterone men strive for fairness can be extrapolated far beyond the free money offer. There are many ways to cheat and get ahead in life. There’s steroids, food stamps, welfare, cosmetic surgeries, fake boobs, liposuction, etc. The high-testosterone man despises all of these because they are unfair ways to get ahead of everyone else, a.k.a. the majority. Everyone else puts in hard work or plays the hand that God has dealt them. High-testosterone men care for these people. Low-testosterone men and women care for the individual, thus they have no problem with someone who “cheats” or even supports him/her. They say, “People can do whatever they want to their own body.” Or, “Their decision doesn’t affect you personally in any way, so why do you care?” The truth is that any time an individual “cheats,” he or she negatively affects the entire population (i.e. the majority) by just a little bit. For example, when one man signs up for food stamps, the entire population now pays for his meals—$0.0001 per person. Or, say a man takes steroids to look aesthetic. This makes him bigger than everyone else, which grants him opportunities to star in photo shoots, commercials, movies, and so on. Everyone else, who worked just as hard as him at the gym, do not reap a cent.
Focus on General vs. Specific
“It’s the small things that matter.” Some people swear by this quote. I’ve never found myself agreeing with it. For me, it’s the big, general things that matter. I believe focusing on general things in life is characteristic of men. Women focus on the specific things in life, like the ethnic origin of one night’s dinner. One thing that women pay attention to that boggles my mind is sunrises and sunsets. They see uniqueness in them: the colors that come out, the position of the clouds, the certain time of day, etc. As a man, I just see the sameness: the sun rises and sets all over the world, all day, and every day; big whoop.
Today’s society is concerned by the lack of women in math, physics, and engineering. Well, what is the goal for the typical mathematician or physicist? To come up with theories and formulas that explain how everything works. Theories and formulas are general. For example, p=mv is the equation for momentum. It applies to all masses and all velocities. Specific would be application of this formula. For example, plugging numbers into p=mv to construct new rollercoasters. If 2,000-lb cart, then make rollercoaster ramp this high. If 4,000-lb cart, then make track length this long. This is not what physicists and engineers do on a regular basis, though, at least according to the media. Women want to work in fields that are known for attention to the specifics. Women want to adapt to unique individuals, environments, and occasions.
Women are often misconstrued as being unintelligent for their indifference to the general, “big picture” things in life. What makes something general? Ubiquity, universality, or timelessness. Unknowingly, these are the things that men tend to focus on. The more time, space, or people something encompasses, the more trivial it is to women. For example, gravity, p=mv, or CPU technology. This is why men are technology enthusiasts and women are not. A smartphone is mass-produced for mass consumption—there is not one gram of uniqueness. The more specific something is, the more trivial it is to men. What makes something specific? Personal, unique, or occurring in a moment of time. Unknowingly, these are the things that women tend to focus on.
If you often respond to things with, “It depends on the [person, place, thing, or time],” then you have a feminine personality. Women treat every instance as unique. Women live on a person-to-person and day-to-day basis. Women react to the ebb and flow. Women are concerned with the domestic issues and the current events—emphasis on the word “current.” Women are tuned into trends, such as the latest murder trial. Women watch Judge Judy because it shows people getting into unique situations. A masculine personality is interested in the exact opposite. Men are concerned with the global issues. This is tricky, though, because many issues are large in scale yet not ubiquitous, universal, and/or timeless. For instance, a crazy dictator may have executed ten citizens on a whim. This would definitely be considered “world news” but it’s hardly ubiquitous or timeless. In reality, the only part of news that is ubiquitous, universal, or timeless are the scientific discoveries and technological advancements. A scientific discovery can reveal something about humans that’s true for any period of humankind, or a fact about the universe that’s true for eternity.
When it comes to physical appearance, men and women focus on complete opposites. Men focus on the generals. These are the traits that all people have (i.e. traits that span all races, cultures, etc.) and remain consistent over time (i.e. timelessness). These are the shapes and proportions of the face, body, nose, eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc. Women focus on the specifics: the traits that are unique among individuals and changing over time (i.e. situational). These are fashion trends, clothes, hairstyle, tattoos, piercings, makeup, etc.
So when it comes to improving physical appearance, men work out their body because body shape is consistent regardless of what you’re wearing for the day. Women disregard these generals. They improve physical appearance by expanding/utilizing their wardrobe, applying makeup, or styling hair. These are all specific things that men disregard.
One well-documented difference between men and women is the way they give driving directions. Men use compass direction, distance, and time. For example, “Drive for about one mile going south on this street.” Women use landmarks, which depends on location, and left and right turns, which depends on orientation. For example, “Drive until you see the big orange sign with the word ‘motel’ in cursive writing, and then make a left.” How do I explain this difference? Men think in a general (i.e. absolute) manner. The vocabulary in their directions would work for any road on Earth. Women think in a specific (i.e. relative) manner. Their directions involve the uniqueness of the location.
When decision-making, men consider all the variables simultaneously to make a decision. I always imagine the process as a neuron with information coming in from many dendrites. Many people call this logical thinking. Many say that men are driven by logic and women are driven by emotions. For women, rather than the simultaneous consideration of variables, there is just one important variable. Take the way men and women review restaurants. Men rate a restaurant based on how good the meal was for the price, or meat per dollar, or similar. It’s all about overall cost-effectiveness, “bang for the buck,” or value. For women, it’s not about value but rather the dining experience, which may include ambience or a standout entrée.
Studies have found that the average man speaks about 7,000 words a day while the average woman speaks about 20,000 words a day. Why? Men are focused on the general things. Men describe the general gist of a story. Women focus on the specific details and thus use more descriptive words to describe experiences. Men often cannot stand the way women talk because specifics are trivial to men. Women probably cannot stand that men are terse and ignore specifics when they talk. Also, when men talk, their words have an overarching point/aim. For women, there’s often no goal so it’s just rambling.
Speaking in averages, thinking of averages, and calculating averages are behaviors of a convergence-minded man. Why? Averages are the coming together of many instances into one. I believe women neglect averages, and instead focus on the instances. Ask a waitress how much she earns in tips on average. She’ll say it depends, because some days can be slow, some days can be busy, sometimes she’ll get a bad tipper, etc. To a man, this information is trivial and the only piece of information he cared to know is the average earning. Here’s another example. Ask a man and a woman in a foreign country how the cost of living is over there. A man would say something like, “Housing is expensive but food is cheap.” A woman would say something like, “My house is expensive but it’s in a good area. Other areas are less expensive. Cereal is cheap. Pickles are about the same as over there. Milk is cheaper here.”
One thing I’ve noticed is that men and women have slightly different taste in music. Men tend to like songs that invoke parallel processing and disregard serial processing. Women tend to like the opposite. What do vertical and horizontal processing have to do with music?
Men prefer music with many notes playing simultaneously, a.k.a. harmony. On a “more complex” level, this becomes many instruments playing simultaneously, a.k.a. the chorus. Women prefer many notes playing sequentially, a.k.a. melody. On a “more complex” level, this becomes one instrument—usually the lead singer—playing sequentially, a.k.a. the verse. As I’m sure you know, most pop songs have all these elements and are enjoyed by men and women. However, I’m willing to bet that a song that’s heavy on harmony and chorus will be liked more by men, while a song that’s heavy on melody and verses will be liked more by women.
Goal-Oriented vs. Experience-Oriented
Men are goal-oriented and women are experience-oriented. When I say goal, I don’t necessarily mean a life goal like becoming a doctor. I’m talking about overarching goals that dictate or give meaning to your day-to-day actions. Goals such as completing a project, winning the tournament, or building a playground. A man is constantly focused on a goal, because a goal is the coming together of many experiences/moments in time. A woman disregards the goal and focuses on the experience. She “lives in the moment,” “goes where the wind takes them,” or “takes it one day at a time.” These quotes emphasize the ability to adapt to things one may encounter in the present, and consequently neglecting your (long-term) goals. For men, it’s mainly about the destination; for women, it’s mainly about the journey.
For example, if a man is out shopping he has a goal in mind, like “buy a shirt for nephew’s birthday present.” So he goes to the mall to buy the gift and disregards all the other stuff going on. A woman doesn’t necessarily have a goal in mind when going shopping. For her, it’s all about the experience, so she pays attention to who she’s with, the ambience, music, crowd, etc. On a similar note, a man sees a gift card as nothing more than money that only works at a certain store. A woman sees a gift card as a ticket to a shopping experience. So if you’re giving a man a gift, he really prefers cash—the universal gift card. If you’re giving a woman a gift, she really enjoys gift cards—the ticket to a shopping day out. Furthermore, men and women see money that was given to them for free differently. If a woman spends her free money on something stupid, overpriced, or bad, in her mind it’s okay because it was free. A man treats his free money exactly like his hard-earned money: he will not change his shopping habits; he does not see it as an opportunity to spend frivolously.
I believe it’s meant to be that men call the shots and women roll with the punches. Men often get so fixated on a goal that they don’t pay attention to how they will get there. Likewise, women often get so engulfed by the journey that they don’t even know what the goal is or which direction to go. Here’s an analogy I like: say a man is playing hockey. He has the puck and his eyes are fixated on the opponent’s net. He’s trying to get the puck in there as fast as possible, ignoring the opponents he’s about to encounter along the way: the big checker, the speed demon, the puck thief, etc. This is his downfall, and the puck thief strips the puck off him. If it was a woman with the puck, she would adapt to each of these opponents: skate around the big checker, slam on the brakes against the speed demon, keep the puck close to her stick when near the puck thief, etc. She gets so carried away adapting to all these situations that she’s not even headed towards the goal anymore, or the game has already ended. This is her downfall. A woman needs a man to bring some direction to her aimless life. And a man needs a woman to bring some experiences into his goal-fixated life. You need the opposite sex to balance yourself out.
General vs. Specific in the Five Senses
In all five senses, men favor convergence and its product, general information, while women favor divergence and its product, specific information. In smell, one study found that women are better at discerning different scents than men. Their conclusion, which I don’t agree with, was that women have a better and more sensitive sense of smell than men. As my hypothesis says, a woman’s forte is finding differences a man’s forte is finding.
You may have seen this image before. My explanation for this phenomenon is exactly the same as it is with smell: men focus on similarities/generals while women focus on the differences/specifics. This does not necessarily mean that women have a more keen sense of sight, as studies may conclude. Mix all the colors of the rainbow and what do you get? If it’s the light color system you get white. If it’s the pigment color system you get black or grey. These combined colors are the colors that men prefer. Men prefer white, grey, brown, and black possessions because of their universality; these general colors match with any other color. Women prefer “specific” colors of the spectrum, and match them depending on the context. For example, if going to picnic in the springtime then wear pink shirt. In hearing, I’ve noticed that women pay much attention to unique sounds, accents, and dialects, whereas men do not. In taste, women focus on the unique/specific aspects of food, such as the spices, flavors, cooking method, preparation method, presentation, etc. Men focus on the general aspects of food: how sweet and fatty it tastes. Or, in other words, men focus on the sugar, fat, and protein content of food.
© Buism 2015