If men and women don't see eye to eye, it might be because they really do look at life from different perspectives.
New research at Brigham Young University supports the theory that women prefer a more caring, personal world view, while men favor justice, determination and achievement, says BYU psychology professor Larry C. Jensen.Jensen and his wife, Janet, reported their findings at the recent International Conference on Gender and the Family at BYU.
"Theories about how men and women look at the world are well-documented with case studies, but there is not much observed evidence to support them," said Jensen.
He and his co-researchers, Janet Jensen and Angela P. McGhie, designed and tested "The World View Questionnaire" using 40 pairs of opposing terms of standardized male/female characteristics. Among their findings are the following six results:
- A far greater percentage of women select cooperation over competitiveness.
- The feminine perspective is moral, caring and directed toward people and relationships. Important values include cooperation, helping, getting along, kindness, compromise and children.
The adjectives men prefer - determination, justice, freedom and character - are also moral, but they are not personal or involved with relationships.
- Intuition, which could be defined as emotional knowledge, stands out as a component of the feminine perspective.
- Life from the caring perspective focuses on "being" or "becoming" rather than "doing" or "achieving."
- The feminine world view defines success in terms of "being" and "relationships" rather than in terms of things. Thus, the success that dominates contemporary male thinking - being No. 1, for example - may distinguish feminine thinking more by its absence, according to the researchers.
- Very few women select values associated with power or being in charge; in the BYU study, only 5 percent preferred those values.
"Perhaps living in a world with partners, brothers and fathers who are larger, more muscular and more aggressive, women have developed success strategies within the feminine culture that do not value a power approach to living," said Jensen. The same logic could be applied to women selecting harmony above freedoms.