Personality and gender differences in global perspective

David P. Schmitt, Audrey E. Long, Allante McPhearson, Kirby O'Brien, Brooke Remmert, Seema H. Shah
Published Online:
22 Mar 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 52 Issue S1

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Men's and women's personalities appear to differ in several respects. Social role theories of development assume gender differences result primarily from perceived gender roles, gender socialization and sociostructural power differentials. As a consequence, social role theorists expect gender differences in personality to be smaller in cultures with more gender egalitarianism. Several large cross‐cultural studies have generated sufficient data for evaluating these global personality predictions. Empirically, evidence suggests gender differences in most aspects of personality—Big Five traits, Dark Triad traits, self‐esteem, subjective well‐being, depression and values—are conspicuously larger in cultures with more egalitarian gender roles, gender socialization and sociopolitical gender equity. Similar patterns are evident when examining objectively measured attributes such as tested cognitive abilities and physical traits such as height and blood pressure. Social role theory appears inadequate for explaining some of the observed cultural variations in men's and women's personalities. Evolutionary theories regarding ecologically‐evoked gender differences are described that may prove more useful in explaining global variation in human personality.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science