Research Suggests That Men and Women See Things Differently

It has long been assumed that men see things in black and white while women tend to see things in full color. This can often lead to a communication breakdown between a man and a woman. Now there is research to back that theory up. A recent study involving 113 men and women examined the answers to subjective questions such as “Is a tomato a fruit?” and saw some clear distinctions between how male and female test subjects responded. The majority of the men in the study answered the questions by categorizing the objects quite definitively; whereas the women in the study were more likely to place objects in a “partial” classification.

The study, conducted at the University of Warwick, is thought to be the first of its kind to experiment with these nuances in male and female thinking patterns. The research does not point to either response system as being better than the other. It does, however, reveal that there are positive and negative implications of each method of thinking. Dr. Zachary Estes, one of the authors of the research paper, explains why. “Of course, simply because we have found a significant sex difference in how men and women categorize does not mean that one method is intrinsically better than the other. For instance, male doctors may be more likely to quickly and confidently diagnose a set of symptoms as a disease. Although this brings great advantages in treating diseases early, it obviously has massive disadvantages if the diagnosis is actually wrong. In many cases, a more open approach to categorizing or diagnosing would be more effective.”

Although the results do not provide evidence supporting one response system or another, they shed light on why men and women often have staunch differences of opinion in their relationships.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Noelle

    Noelle

    April 21st, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Really?! We needed another study to tell us this?

  • mal

    mal

    April 22nd, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    this,folks,is the basic reason for all the relationship troubles around you ;)

    but it is also a fact that every person’s thinking is different and for a member of the opposite sex the difference is a lot more.so it should really not be too hard for all of us to realize that we ought to know that our partner may think of something differently than ourselves.

  • Jarvis

    Jarvis

    April 25th, 2011 at 9:29 PM

    Seeing a fact as black and white is the best approach. Tomatoes have seeds inside them, and thus are fruit. Of course, the world outside of random plants isn’t black and white.

  • Aaron

    Aaron

    April 26th, 2011 at 7:35 AM

    There was actually an experimental survey done by Randall Munroe of xkcd. He split people into what sex they were, and what color they defined a certain hue as being.

    It turns out that -nobody- can spell Fuschia. Ha!

  • Huey

    Huey

    April 26th, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    @ Aaron, I saw the results about a month ago buddy and all joking aside, it adds up. Men had picked about ten color names, while most women had chosen fifteen. I guess they spend too much time browsing paint color palettes. ;) Also, it’s Fuchsia. You spelled it wrong LOL.

  • Brendan

    Brendan

    April 26th, 2011 at 12:30 PM

    If you work with machines and computers, then seeing things in black and white is a good thing. When you’re writing, it’s better to have a more freeform thought of thinking. So women should be better writers then, should they not, if they are less stringent in their categorization? Makes sense to me.

  • Zachary

    Zachary

    April 27th, 2011 at 11:45 PM

    @Brendan: Yeah, all the great writers are women! There’s uh…err…

    I’ll get back to you on that LOL. There appears to be a lack of proof to back up that assumption of yours, mate.

  • Saul

    Saul

    April 30th, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    I find that my wife has a habit of seeing things in black and white. No matter who you are, prince or pauper, she feels exactly the same way about being insulting and she’ll tell you. “It’s rude. Don’t do it.”

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