13 February, 2009

Men are more tolerant than women

Women have traditionally been viewed as being more social and cooperative than men. However, recent evidence shows that this may not in fact be the case.

Psychologist Joyce F. Benenson from Emmanuel College and colleagues from Harvard University and the Universite du Quebec a Montreal wanted to compare male and female levels of tolerance towards same-sex peers.

Other studies have shown that men maintain larger social networks with other males, when compared to women, and tend to have longer lasting friendships with members of the same-sex than do women. So, for this study, the Psychologists recruited male and female college student volunteers, and asked them to complete surveys about their relationship with their roommates.

The findings, reported in the journal Psychological Science, revealed that males are more tolerant than females of unrelated same-sex individuals. Further, the males in the study rated their roommates as being more satisfactory and less bothersome than females did. In addition, the researchers found at three different collegiate institutions that females were more likely to switch to a new roommate than males were.

Then, in a further experiment, the participants read a story in which a the main character’s best friend was described as being completely reliable until one day when they promised to hand in a paper and didn’t. After reading the story, the participants were asked to judge the best friend’s reliability - The results of this experiment (which only related one negative behaviour of a formerly reliable hypothetical friend,) showed that women downgraded the best friend’s reliability significantly more than men did.

The researchers caution that their definition of tolerance may be limited and more work needs to be done to uncover the fundamental processes suggested by their findings; but they surmise that gender differences in tolerance may be based on the different functions and expectations that same-sex friendships serve for males and females. [source]

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