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Why do most men and women think so differently?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Dave B
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Why do most men and women think so differently?

#1 Post by Dave B » September 14th, 2010, 9:31 pm

OK, this I am going to offer an idea for discussion. I will not claim that this is what I actually think, it's just something to kick around and see what falls out.

There seems to be a bit of separation between the sexes as to what is funny and what is not. Anecdotal threads can offer funny stories, but threads such as "Talk Like A Pirate", Word Link", "Count Up/Down" etc. seem to attract more men than women. In fact some women find it very strange, cannot see the point. This is something that I have noticed often, but have never found an answer to (there are bound to books on it somewhere!)

But, is this a left over from the (assumed) division of gender role that goes back to the days that we lived in caves? Some archaeo-anthropologists/sociologists say that we are still, genetically, "cave-people", that we still have reactions and habits that date back to those dim and distant days.

So, what was the difference between the fighting/hunting habits of the male of the species and the domestic tasks that, it is assumed, fell to their mates? In which ways did this form the habits, pastimes and the thought patterns of modern people I wonder? This is offered for discussion, it is basically some observations, unanalysed in any formal way. Perhaps I want to be deliberately provocative to get some ideas flowing.

There are always exceptions but, in the round, there have been more male artists than females, more male engineers and so on. "AH but," I hear the cry, "you men never gave us women the chances, the education . . .!" Very true, but is that part of the "tradition" that goes back all those tens of thousands of years?

Back when almost every moment of the waking day was occupied with staying alive there may well have been some division of tasks. Put at its simplest: men hunted, women looked after the kids. Chances are mating started at the first sign of fertility, children were an essential resource and child mortality was almost certainly very high - productive time could not be wasted. This meant that women, even young women, were also important - would they be risked in hunting expeditions? If they were it was probably as "followers" to help butcher and transport the meat - well out of the danger zone.

Making a further assumption that the men hunted the animals and the women searched for the veg, shellfish etc. could it be said that two types of mind were required? Hunting animals requires faster analysis and decision skills than searching for plant food, or even sea food. Animals try to escape or fight back, plants are a bit more passive in their defences. But plants fight back in subtle ways, with poisons mainly. This means that new plants have to be treated in slow, methodical ways; eat a tiny amount, wait for any reaction, eat a little more, wait a little longer etc.

If these sorts of differences in activity lasted for a few thousand years - which they almost certainly did - could they be still cropping up in the different occupation types that attract men and women. I think the separation is less distinct now, but is it still there? Does it have anything to do with why gender seems to play a part in thread type participation?
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jaywhat
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#2 Post by jaywhat » September 15th, 2010, 6:29 am

nature v nurture

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Dave B
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#3 Post by Dave B » September 15th, 2010, 10:34 am

jaywhat wrote:nature v nurture
You will have to convince me that this dichotomy applies in the case of early homo sapiens sapiens whilst we were still forming family ties, clan allegiances etc. Some form of task division was needed and, assuming that we evolved from an earlier hominid, we may have inherited behaviour from them as well.

Earlier hominids had gender dimorphism in terms of size, large males, smaller females, which might have been a product of their roles which was then reinforced by "tradition". The more active male of many mammalian species turns its "excess" energy into size and bulk - all the better to fight with. The female invests this in the new generation (generally speaking). Does this also result in a less active lifestyle?

We have merely swapped those old survival traits for forms of recreation. That women are more and more inclined to indulge in traditionally males past-times, rugby for example, is because they no longer need to spend 97% (increasing with prepared foods overtaking "home made"?) of their time maintaining the home and family and have become more adventurous.

These are bound to affect behaviour and behaviour has a give-and-take relationship to modes of thought. Not so much "nurture v nature" but "nature forming nurture"? That would strengthen my argument that the differences between the sexes in modes of thinking goes back to the needs of survival 100ky or more ago.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#4 Post by jaywhat » September 15th, 2010, 1:20 pm

I think we need to clarify, if that's possible, the actual meaning (for us in this thread) of the title of the thread. The crucial word, for me, is 'think'.

Gottard
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#5 Post by Gottard » September 15th, 2010, 5:24 pm

Too vast a subject to be tackled in short contributions. yes, some contributors are prepared to write long pages but that is not me.
My short contribution, nevertheless:
Part of the difference is due to the muscular structure being different, which drives some attitudes. Uneven education is/was also a factor.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#6 Post by Dave B » September 15th, 2010, 6:26 pm

Sorry, I did not formulate the thread tightly enough.

I was trying to elicit any ideas on why women and men do seem, in general, to think very differently. I believe that this is due to the roles each has played over the history of the race. Yes, education, empowerment, opportunity etc are all part of the factor - but these have a history that goes back into the very distant past and it is maybe only in the last 1000 years or so that women have began to change that pattern, fight for equality in all things (rightfully).

But I do think there is a different mindset still. Perhaps this is something that requires study and knowledge rather than speculation.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#7 Post by Gottard » September 17th, 2010, 12:14 pm

I am sure you know that the brain of the individual is made up of two lobes, right and left. The two are connected by what is called "nervus callosum". Although the knowledge of individual functions of the brain are still subject of study, some peculiarities have already been established.
The left lobe (among other things) deals with rational decisions -the logics- while the right lobe is more engaged with the processing of creativity, emotional aspects and broadly, reaction to artwork. In this way, the right side tends to propose things creatively (passion, love, intuitions), the information then is transferred to the left side of the brain that processes the received input for matching this content against rational reasoning and usually -usually- the output is supplied to the 'body' resulting in the 'action'.
It has been ascertained that the right lobe is slightly more voluminous in women that men and this is likely to make the difference: women are more intuitive and emotional compared to men.

My comment:this is why I purport the idea that we men might draw more benefits if women politicians were employed in a larger number in the concept that politics needs passion.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#8 Post by getreal » September 17th, 2010, 5:06 pm

Gottard (hello! by the way), I thought this right hemisphere/left henisphere thing was actually pseudo science -that is the attributing of particular skills, not the existance of :D
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#9 Post by Gottard » September 17th, 2010, 5:16 pm

getreal wrote:Gottard (hello! by the way), I thought this right hemisphere/left henisphere thing was actually pseudo science -that is the attributing of particular skills, not the existance of :D
I've learned that from the course on Humanism I completed last year and....as a staunch Humanist, I have verified the fact with scientific sources. :nod:
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#10 Post by Dave B » September 17th, 2010, 7:05 pm

Yes, I have also seen enough on the sexual dimorphism (sorry, just seem to like that phrase!) of the brain is a fact. One assumes that it is an evolutionary thing since the division of effort in some aspects of family/community life between the sexes makes for more efficiency.

Brains are a bit "plastic" I understand. There are certain parts of the brains of taxi drivers, involved with observation and navigation, that become well developed compared to the average. I also attended the fascinating lecture on "Einstein's Brain", he had a feature on his left hemisphere that possibly gave extra connections between the image and number processing areas. Since he evolved his theories in terms of images and then confirmed these with maths accords well with this. But did he posses this feature from birth or develop it through use?

This links to the nurture aspect of bringing up kids, does early role assignment cause the above dimorphism or is it there from day one as a permanent feature? Must be some research done on this I am sure.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#11 Post by Marian » September 17th, 2010, 10:01 pm

Apparantly, there are differences in the brains of male and female fetuses at 26 weeks where the nerve bundle (corpus callosum) that connects the right and left brain is thicker in females. This is suppose to reflect women's strong language skills, on average. For boys, the part of the brain that deals with maths matures faster than that of women. This is from research done at the Uni of Pennsylvania and the Kennedy Kreiger Institute.

That being said, it's also noted that both men and women have brain areas which function pretty much the same and that there is considerable overlap in skills so that some men will be good at language skills and some women will be good at maths or spatial relations.

Maybe it's too easy to think of the brain as being divided exclusively along male/female lines but since our culture seems to head in the direction of 'either/or' dicotomies, I guess I shouldn't be shocked. And as you mentioned, DaveB, socialization plays a huge part in this whole equation.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#12 Post by getreal » September 18th, 2010, 12:19 am

The left lobe (among other things) deals with rational decisions -the logics- while the right lobe is more engaged with the processing of creativity, emotional aspects and broadly, reaction to artwork. In this way, the right side tends to propose things creatively (passion, love, intuitions),
Can you provide sources for that Gottard? I'm not convinced this is generally accepted. It seems much too simplistic to me.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#13 Post by getreal » September 18th, 2010, 12:39 am

Sorry for the double post. I have accidently deleted an edit to my previous post (it's late)

I have found this
These data argue against substantive differences between men and women in the large-scale neural organization of language processes.
and this
It is therefore not likely that differences in language lateralization underlie the general sex differences in cognitive performance, and the neuronal basis for these cognitive sex differences remains elusive.
and this


Form reading these abstracts it would appear to me that the "left hemisphere rational-right hemisphere emotional" is mere conjecture.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#14 Post by Gurdur » September 18th, 2010, 7:09 am

Gottard wrote:I am sure you know that the brain of the individual is made up of two lobes, right and left. The two are connected by what is called "nervus callosum".
Hi Gottard,
Corpus callosum is the usual name, as Marian said. It's one of 4 connections between the sides at a higher level, and the main one but not the only one. The shape and size may differ in women vs. men, but it's a statistical difference, not an absolute difference. There has been much research into sexual cortical dimorphism, but frankly, a hell of a lot is very inconclusive. There has been a little research into brain differences between straight and gay men, but the research is very much under criticism.
The left lobe (among other things) deals with rational decisions -the logics- while the right lobe is more engaged with the processing of creativity, emotional aspects and broadly, reaction to artwork. In this way, the right side tends to propose things creatively (passion, love, intuitions),
Not really. This is a fairly old conception in neuropsychology, and is too simplistic a view. The brain is extremely complex, and different tasks are extremely complex. It's not really possible to make such a category as "emotions"; these divide up into very different subsystems (eg. aversive behaviour usually has little to do with clinging behaviour, but both are seen as "emotions"). Logical processing really doesn't lateralize all that much, and again, is divided into subsystems. Some tasks are often but not always strongly lateralized, such as language production. But that doesn't allow of too much generalization about other things.

Lateralization and brain localization of functions, and all that in relation to gender and homosexual/heterosexual differences, are a subject of huge research and debate in neuropsychology, and personally, I would strongly advise against reaching any firm conclusions at all.
It has been ascertained that the right lobe is slightly more voluminous in women that men and this is likely to make the difference: women are more intuitive and emotional compared to men.
Sorry but no; "emotion" doesn't lateralize so simply. There may be gender differences in certain things; squirt oxytocin up men's noses and they may (repeat may) show more empathy, according to some new study (but I would criticise that conclusion); but in the end, gender behavioural differences don't really seem to depend on dimoprhic differences in brain laterality all that much. Certainly, some laterality differences seem to exist to a statistical degree but not an absolute degree between genders; but a lot appears unlateralized too, or only mildly lateralized.
My comment:this is why I purport the idea that we men might draw more benefits if women politicians were employed in a larger number in the concept that politics needs passion.
Margaret Thatcher, Madelaine Albright, Catherine the Great. I think you will find women in power tend to behave much the same as men in power, insofar as policies go. Or IOW no real gender difference once in power is so visible at all; individual differences far outweigh gender differences. There are some social differences, which voting/polling records show, but those seem to be too influenced by culture to say much.


____________
getreal wrote: .... Form reading these abstracts it would appear to me that the "left hemisphere rational-right hemisphere emotional" is mere conjecture.
No, of the abstracts you cite, two deal in language lateralization, not in emotion/logic. Language is fairly strongly lateralized. To some extent, certain specific tasks are strongly to mildly lateralized. The "left hemisphere rational-right hemisphere emotional" thing actually rests on much earlier research. IOW, not mere conjecture. Also not firm, and not too dependable at all, and not worth concluding anything about, but not mere conjecture. Not pseudo-science either. Possibly wrong in most of it, but not pseudo-science, but rather earlier science.

The last one you cite does not support your statement at all, in fact it contradicts it a bit.

This was the study you cited:
Sex Differences in Brain Gray and White Matter in Healthy Young Adults: Correlations with Cognitive Performance
....
Sex-related differences in behavior are extensive, but their neuroanatomic substrate is unclear.
...... Sex difference in the percentage and asymmetry of the principal cranial tissue volumes may contribute to differences in cognitive functioning.
That really doesn't seem to fit in with your statement about it at all.

try these:

e.g. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19352206 - spatial working memory.

Then: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19348735 - Laterality effect on emotional faces processing: ALE meta-analysis of evidence

Then you get the oddities like this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19188862 - rats, but possibly applicable to a degree to humans.

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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#15 Post by Gurdur » September 18th, 2010, 7:22 am

Marian wrote: ... Maybe it's too easy to think of the brain as being divided exclusively along male/female lines but since our culture seems to head in the direction of 'either/or' dicotomies, I guess I shouldn't be shocked. And as you mentioned, DaveB, socialization plays a huge part in this whole equation.
All sorts of generalizations get made, I wouldn't trust most of them if you paid me to. As far as I can see, both genders behave differently simply to spite the other. It also gives everyone something to do, a hobby, confusing the other side.

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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#16 Post by Gottard » September 18th, 2010, 8:59 pm

getreal wrote:Can you provide sources for that Gottard? I'm not convinced this is generally accepted. It seems much too simplistic to me.
The course I refer to is "The Continuum Humanist Education"
http://humanisteducation.com/
Can't remember other sources at the moment, I keep reading interesting subjects as they come to my attention. However, I have anticipated that Studies on the structure/functions of the brain are in progress and - me not being an expert - I can only learn from articles trying to distinguish scientific facts from gratuitous scoops. Quite different if you ask me about subjects of marketing/finance which is my field of competence.
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#17 Post by Marian » September 19th, 2010, 12:31 pm

Gurdur wrote: As far as I can see, both genders behave differently simply to spite the other. It also gives everyone something to do, a hobby, confusing the other side.
How curious. What makes you say that, Gurdur?
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#18 Post by Gurdur » September 19th, 2010, 7:24 pm

Marian wrote:
Gurdur wrote: As far as I can see, both genders behave differently simply to spite the other. It also gives everyone something to do, a hobby, confusing the other side.
How curious. What makes you say that, Gurdur?
My sense of humour. Me being sarky/cheeky.

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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#19 Post by Dave B » September 19th, 2010, 7:53 pm

Gurdur, you will find this emoticon Image at this location:
http://nglreturns.myfreeforum.org/posti ... de=smilies
It's use might help us . . .
:wink:
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Re: Why do most men and women think so differently?

#20 Post by Carja » September 19th, 2010, 11:04 pm

I would say that I have pretty much an even number of both men and women in my life as far as friends and relatives are concerned. What I see from that is that we think alike in most things. However, more men commit murder, steal, and are unfaithful than women are. Am I to conclude that women are more honest and honorable than men are because of that? I don't want to think like that. I think that it's not really man vs woman when it comes to what we think and do. It's "some people" think one way and "some people" think another. I know some men who are more emotional than most of the women I know. So we can't blame our thought process on emotions as far as men vs women goes. It comes down to respect that we, as individuals, have for ourselves and others. Saying that men think one way, and women another, becomes an excuse for bad behavior.
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