This paper explores five scholarly articles that revolve around how biological sex differences may affect gender expression. The goal of this review is to distinguish how both factors may influence one another to get a better idea of how they mutually exist. All articles tend to have consistent perceptions of gender and sexuality that are not reflected in the media’s interpretation of the relationship. Many of the assumptions one may have on intersexual dynamics would be dismantled by the conclusions found in these academic status. By examining these scholarly articles it allows readers to gain a greater understanding of how sexual differences influence gender expression.
Due to the rising importance of identity politics in America and requests for policy changes it is important to see how and why sex differences impact our social conceptions of gender. In this review, the goal is to address sex and cultural differences and how they may affect individual’s perception of their roles in society. Ranging from biological differences and their effect on either sex’s personality to socioeconomic factors which can restrict an individual’s freedom of expression and ability to magnify their sexual differences. Putting these findings together help answer the question of how biological sex differences influence our perception our constructions of gender.
Act Like A Man, Act Like A Woman
With identity politics on the rise and the widely promoted acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community our views on how the sex you are born as affects your personality. The nature versus nurture argument has received more acknowledgment, especially as the idea that gender is exclusively socially constructed has been more accepted by the masses. Understanding the optimal way to navigate these topics is important for the quality of our society. This information is valuable because these cultural shifts influence how children are raised and socialized. Studies have been conducted to understand the differences between both sexes, it has been found that biological sex differences are the catalyst to our societal constructions of gender expression. The goal of this literature review is to use scholarly studies to explain how biological sex influences individual’s personality traits which help mold out social constructions of gender.
Beliefs tend to take over those who subscribe to them. After adopting a frame of thinking it becomes harder to see the world in a neutral point of view. We see this when people with moderate political affiliations tend to become more radical with age. The combination of confirmation bias and a limited perspective damages the good intentions behind many movements. Much of the rhetoric which revolves around gender roles being socially constructed has been adopted by the far left, and heavily promoted as fact. Throughout this literature review I would like to give a neutral analysis using studies conducted which specify on sex differences and their influence on individuals. There have been studies done to detect the differences influence on personality, lifestyle choices and more! Understanding the influence sex has on an individual’s interests, characteristics and lifestyle choices can help us gain a better understanding of the objective influence it has. Seeing how sex difference influence individual’s personality can help us understand how cultures are affirming these roles not constructing them.
Cultural Expectations and Sex Differences
Regardless of what culture you were born into I am sure you were taught certain gender roles. Many people believe that the noticed differences between the men and women are because of the rhetoric we were brought up to believe. Purely nurtured differences with no natural backing. Now, what do evolutionary psychologists how to say about this? A study conducted in 2001, which involved 23,000+ individuals from 26 different countries, found that the countries with the most progressive ideals happened to have more magnified differences between the sexes (Costa, P.T., Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R., 2001). This completely undermines the idea that gender stereotypes are solely influenced by how our culture defines our gender’s role in society. The study also found that many participants naturally conformed to the idealistic gender roles that many cultures indoctrinate their followers on. Why? Hormonal differences, which are based off sex, cause personality differences.
Most people have accepted people transitioning into a different gender, but we all understand that regardless of which gender you identify as your biological sex cannot be changed. This fact is important to realizing that not all gender roles are socially constructed. Difference in sex causes a difference in hormonal makeup, and your hormonal makeup influences your personality traits. Hormones are the catalyst for sexual development. Men tend to have higher testosterone levels, while women tend to have higher estrogen levels. It is understood that your hormones affect your moods and behavior. Many gender stereotypes are associated with behaviors and attitudes connected to a certain sex hormone. Studies have found that females with higher testosterone tend to act more “masculine”, which shows the relation between biological differences and gender roles (Udry, J. R., & Talbert, L. M. 1988). To ignore our biological differences and their effects on how our society perceives gender gives us an incomplete outlook on how society affects gender roles.
To gain a better understanding of sex differences it is important to see how these differences influence children’s personalities, especially to address the influence of biological sex on their perceptions of gender. Researchers have conducted a study on the emergence of sex difference in adolescence. The study focuses purely on sex differences that are observable during early adolescence. Participants ranged from 12 to 17 years old which were from 23 different countries. The study found that there were similar trends in the participant’s personality traits regardless of culture and noticed that a great indicator of personality differences based on sex. These findings are important to note when addressing how biological sex influences our societal constructions of gender. Researchers came to the conclusion that culture is probably not a substantial source of the inconsistencies that characterize the literature on sex differences in adolescent’s personality (De Bolle, M., De Fruyt, F., McCrae, R. R., et al., 2015).
This finding ties into the aforementioned study on how and individuals sex hormone levels influence their personality traits. Regardless of participants cultural expectations the ages where they would commonly hit puberty would begin the emergence of the sex associated personality traits. Since studies have found that regardless of your culture’s perspective on gender roles that you are more likely to express the same sex differences, it is safe to assume that sex differences are not purely societal. Despite them not being purely societal, our society’s expectation still holds the power to influence our development and perception of gender. Just not in the way we’ve been taught to think.
Modern Culture’s Influence on Sex Differences
Today, many researchers believe that they are five core personality traits. They are as followed: openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Researchers wanted to look more into the question, “Why Can’t a Man Be More Like A Woman?” and to do this they studied sex differences in these five traits across 55 cultures. The study found that women reported higher levels of neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness than did men across most nations. (Schmitt, D., Realo. A., Voracek, M. & Alli, J., 2008) The study found that cultures with the most differences were those with more developed societal and/or economic conditions.
Researchers even noted that “One unexpected finding has been that sex differences in personality traits are often larger in prosperous, healthy, and egalitarian cultures in which women have more opportunities equal with men” (Costa et al., 2001; McCrae, 2002). This finding holds a lot of weight because the current rhetoric being widely accepted is the idea that society’s enforcement of gender roles is the root cause of all inequality amongst the sexes. Researchers accounted for multiple factors which could be the cause of these sex differences. Ranging from societal roles, evolutionary explanations, and social desirability. Societal roles did not serve as a foolproof explanation because egalitarian societies were consistently found to have more sex differences. Evolutionary explanations hold weight, but because of how humans have advanced as a species they cannot be the only reasoning worth considering. Social desirability was in a similar spot as these factors were too subjective amongst a range of cultures.
Yet a difference which stuck out clearly was the magnitude of sex differences amongst developed countries. Although, amongst all cultures men and women did not have equal results, regarding their personality traits, there was a significant rise in these personality differences with individuals from cultures with a higher socioeconomic status. The study definitely supported the idea that with more human development and equal chance the personalities of men and women further diverge. Researchers even went as far as to say that sex roles do not even begin to explain why sex differences vary across cultures. Even though in traditional and/or economically deprived countries the division of labor is different this does not seem to have a major influence on how individual’s orient their personality. It oddly keeps them on a more equal footing personality wise. Our idea on society’s role on how sex differences manifest in individuals has seemingly been overvalued in the wrong spheres of influence.
Gaining a better understanding of how biological sex differences influence individual’s personality traits is important when trying to understand the best way of approaching gender inequality. Many activists believe providing either sex with more opportunities associated with their opposite sex will help promote balance, but these studies have found this logic to be flawed. Lack of opportunity does affect how individuals express sex differences, but just not in the way many people have be taught to believe. With more choice and diverse paths to success people are more likely to play on their sexual differences. As societies become more egalitarian, which favors hunter-gatherer cultures, sex differences are materializing more frequently than they have before. Although these studies gave a lot of insight on how biological sex differences and cultural development influence sex differences there are still much more research to be done. A continuation of current research with a more methodology can help us see how modern trends may also be influencing how individuals choose to express their sexual differences.
Udry, J. R., & Talbert, L. M. (1988). Sex Hormone Effects on Personality at Puberty. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
Costa, P.T., Terracciano, A., & McCrae, R. R. (2001). “Gender differences in personality traits across cultures: robust and surprising findings.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
De Bolle, M., De Fruyt, F., McCrae, R. R., et al. (2015). “The Emergence of Sex Differences in Personality Traits in Early Adolescence: A Cross-Sectional, Cross-Cultural Study.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
Su, R., Rounds, J., & Armstrong, P.I. (2009). “Men and Things, Women and People: A Meta-Analysis of Sex Differences in Interests.” Psychological Bulletin
Schmitt, D., Realo. A., Voracek, M. & Alli, J. (2008). “Why can’t a man be more like a woman? Sex differences across 55 cultures.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology