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Unformatted text preview: New Directions in the Study of Gender Similarities and Differences Janet Shibley Hyde University of WisconsinMadison ABSTRACT I review new trends in research on the psychology of gender. The gender similarities hypothesis holds that males and females are similar on most, but not all, psychological variables. Gender is not only an indi- vidual-difference or person variable but also a stimulus variable. Emerging approaches to cross-national mea- surement ofconstructs such as gender equalityprovide new insights into patterns of gender differences and similarities across cultures. Current neuroscience approaches em- phasize neural plasticity and provide the opportunity to study neural correlates of males and females differential experiences. KEYWORDS gender differences; meta-analysis; cultural influence; brain plasticity For at least the last century, psychological scientists, as well as members of the general public, have been convinced that human males and females differ psychologically in important and substantial ways. Psychological scientists, basing their ideas on key reviews such as Maccoby and Jacklins (1974), have thought and taught that there are reliable gender differences in verbal ability (females scoring higher), mathematical and spatial abilities (males scoring higher on both), aggressiveness (males higher), and activity level (males higher). Members of the gen- eral public, influenced by bestsellers such as John Grays Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus and Deborah Tannens You Just Dont Understand: Men and Women in Conversation , believe that men and women are fundamentally different (Prentice & Miller, 2006). Here I review current scientific evidence on psychological gender differences and similarities, as well as current and future directions to advance this area of research. GENDER SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES Gender-differences research is an extremely active area; often 50 or more studies can be found on a single aspect of gender differences. Meta-analysis has emerged as an excellent method for assessing these large research literatures to determine which findings are reliable. Meta-analysis is a statistical method that allows the researcher to synthesize the statistical findings from numerous studies of the same questionfor example, Are there gender differences in aggression? An important statistic in meta-analysis is the effect size , which measures the magnitude of the gender difference: d M M M F s w where d is the effect size, M M is the mean score for males, M F is the mean score for females, and s w is the pooled within-gender standard deviation. Positive values indicate that males scored higher and negative values indicate that females scored higher; d measures how far apart the average male and female scores are, in standard-deviation units....
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This note was uploaded on 10/28/2009 for the course HD 2610 taught by Professor Mikels,j. during the Fall '07 term at Cornell University (Engineering School).
- Fall '07