4 odd studies reveal differences between sexes

I recently saw an ad for a play based on John Gray’s book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,” and it got me to thinking about the differences between the sexes.

So I did an exhaustive Internet search to determine exactly what we know about this phenomenon (well, not really—I came at it sideways by Googling “strange scientific studies” and cherry-picking what I found relevant and most interesting).

Here’s some of what I learned:

Men are more narcissistic than women

This may come as no surprise to many women, but according to a study in the March 2015 issue of the Psychological Bulletin (the journal of the American Psychological Association), men are more likely than women to demonstrate narcissistic behavior.

The study qualified narcissism according to three aspects: entitlement, leadership/authority and grandiose/exhibitionism. Men scored significantly higher than women in the first two categories (agreeing with such statements as “I like having authority over people” and believing they were entitled to special privileges). There was, however, little difference between the genders in the third category, which includes qualities such as vanity and self-absorption.

I showed this study to a friend of mine and she shared this anecdotal evidence to support its findings:

“The day I delivered my first child, my husband had pulled a groin muscle playing golf,” she related. “When I was in labor, the doctor came in and asked, ‘How are you doing?’ My husband went on to describe his groin pain in some detail while I suffered the next contraction.”

She and said husband are no longer married.

High heels sway men to do women’s bidding

In a study from France, four females were asked to wear flats or two- or four-inch heels and document their interactions with unfamiliar men. In one experiment, the women asked male passersby to complete a survey. In another, the women dropped a glove on the street to see if men retrieved it for them.

When the women wore flats, 42% of men agreed to take the survey. The numbers increased to 60% and 82% when the women wore two- and four-inch heels, respectively. A similar pattern emerged with the dropped glove: men played the role of gentleman 62% of the time when the women wore flats, and 92% of the time when they wore the highest heels.

The researcher’s explanation? High heels make women more attractive to men, and are associated with greater sexiness, beauty and willingness to date. Well, duh. Those are some pretty darn keen observations.

Conversely, I believe we can safely posit that men wearing high heels do not have the same effect on women—another example of the difference between the sexes.

Women don’t like beards on men; men think they look more masculine

Here’s one hirsute Mainers may find of interest. Scientists from New Zealand and Canada found 19 men from New Zealand and Samoa with full beards and photographed them before and after shaving. The pictures were then shown to more than 200 women from both countries who were asked to rate them for attractiveness.

The women rated the clean-shaven look as significantly more attractive, according to the journal Behavioral Ecology. When other men were asked their opinion, they said the photographed men looked older and angrier when bearded. Both sexes said that facial hair added gravitas, with the bearded men perceived to have a higher social status and command more respect from other men.

The takeaway? Beards signal masculinity to other men but don’t do much to attract women. And while it wasn’t part of this study, I think it’s safe to assume that neither sex is keen on women with beards.

People without testicles live longer

In virtually every part of the world, women live longer than men—and medical science has sought to figure out why. Well, now there appears to be an answer.

Researchers in Korea have shown that eunuchs—castrated men who lived centuries ago and whose testicles were removed before puberty—outlived other men by a significant margin, suggesting that male sex hormones (particularly testosterone) are to blame for shortening men’s lives.

Studying the genealogy records of members of the imperial court of the Korean Chosun dynasty (AD 1392 – 1910), scientists found that eunuchs lived 14 to 19 years longer than other men, and were 130 times more likely to reach age 100 than other men at the time—longevity that remains quite rare even in developed countries today. In contrast, kings and male members of the royal family typically survived only to their mid-forties.

So, guys, we apparently now know a sure-fire way for you to live longer. Any takers?

Bottom line, men and women really do perceive certain things differently. It doesn’t make one gender right and the other wrong (most of the time, anyway). We’re just different. And if we can learn to understand, accept and appreciate these differences—along with our commonalities—life together really is much easier.

At our age, it’s time
for détente in the battle
of the sexes. Peace.

So, what do you think about the differences between men and women, especially as we’ve gotten older? Are they more pronounced or predictable? Does it matter as much as it used to? Or do certain things still drive you crazy? Please share!







Roxanne Jones

About Roxanne Jones

By day, Roxanne Jones is an award-winning freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. She launched Boomer Haiku, a humorous blog about life as a baby boomer, in 2015, and a Boomer Haiku greeting card line in 2016 (available at 6 Maine stores; visit www.boomerhaiku.com/shop/ to learn more). Born and raised in Brunswick, she left Maine after high school (Class of 1971) and, after living in Massachusetts and California, came screaming back to her home state in 2006. She enjoys chardonnay, laughing at the foibles and frustrations of getting older, and contemplates plastic surgery to get rid of the wattle on her neck.