I'm not sure what to make of this study - it refutes an enormous body of research that makes the case for only minimal differences in male and female personalities. On the other hand, it looks good on paper.
I am skeptical about a couple of things - (1) they did not control for gender identity development (pre-conventional, conventional, post-conventional), which would have an impact on the self-reported gender-related traits - (2) none of the scales (see below) assess for gender identity in any way - all of the traits can be stereotypically applied to one gender or the other.
My sense is that they have identified conventional-stage gender differences, not sex-based personality differences.
Part of their argument in this study is that using any of the Big 5 models of personality testing is essentially useless. They argue (and I agree):
Personality traits can be organized in a hierarchical structure, from the broad and inclusive (e.g., extraversion) to the narrow and specific (e.g., gregariousness or excitement seeking).They feel that the Big 5 models are too broad and inclusive, so they went for a more a narrow and specific analysis.They also make some arguments for a specific type of statistical analysis (multivariate vs. univariate) that would bore you to tears.
Here is the crucial part - they advocate a much more sensitive personality profile - I'm not familiar with this measure, so I am only able to present what they have written about it:
The 16PF 5th Edition (16PF5) contains 185 items organized into 16 primary factor scales . The 16PF5 contains 15 primary personality scales, a 15-item Reasoning scale, and a 12-item Impression Management Scale. The current analysis utilizes the 15 personality scales: Warmth (reserved vs. warm), Emotional Stability (reactive vs. emotionally stable), Dominance (deferential vs. dominant), Liveliness (serious vs. lively), Rule-Consciousness (expedient vs. rule-conscious), Social Boldness (shy vs. socially bold), Sensitivity (utilitarian vs. sensitive), Vigilance (trusting vs. vigilant), Abstractness (grounded vs. abstracted), Privateness (forthright vs. private), Apprehension (self-assured vs. apprehensive), Openness to Change (traditional vs. open to change), Self-Reliance (group-oriented vs. self-reliant), Perfectionism (tolerates disorder vs. perfectionistic), and Tension (relaxed vs. tense). The internal consistency of the 15 scales (α) ranged from .68 to .87 (see Table 1).It sounds like a useful scale if it is both reliable and verifiable.
Table 1. Correlations and univariate effect sizes for observed scores.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029265.t001The 15 primary scales can be further organized into 5 global scales: Extraversion (Warmth, Liveliness, Social Boldness, Privateness, and Self-Reliance), Anxiety (Emotional Stability, Vigilance, Apprehension, and Tension), Tough-Mindedness (Warmth, Sensitivity, Abstractedness, and Openness to Change), Independence (Dominance, Social Boldness, Vigilance, and Openness to Change) and Self-Control (Liveliness, Rule-Consciousness, and Perfectionism. The global scales of the 16PF are similar to the 5 FFM domains; in particular, Extraversion overlaps considerably with FFM extraversion, Anxiety with Neuroticism, Self-Control with Conscientiousness, and Tough-Mindedness with (negative) Openness. The Independence scale, however, has no clear-cut analogue in the FFM .
The major differences identified between the sexes are "in Sensitivity, Warmth, and Apprehension (higher in females), and Emotional stability, Dominance, Rule-consciousness, and Vigilance (higher in males). These effects subsume the classic sex differences in instrumentality/expressiveness or dominance/nurturance (see )."
For those who want to "Cliff Notes" version of this study, here is a brief article that sensationalizes the outcomes. The link to the actual study is found below.
- Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - seriously
- Men and women share just 10pc of personality traits
- Study has been branded "uninterpretable" by critic