We live on the same planet and we cannot do without each other.
We are different, but supplement each other in many ways, most
fundamentally in relation to survival of the individual and the
species. We are not so different that we cannot understand each
other, if we avoid prejudice and stereotype perceptions. We can
only live with equality and in a healthy manner if society does
not pressure us into rigid gender roles, and if we do not let
it happen ourselves.
It is easy to demonstrate biological differences between the
two sexes (e.g. genetic, in the brain, and hormonal).
Psychosocial differences are present in terms of statistical
differences in relation to the same trait in the two sexes. When
a trait is shown to be more pronounced in one of the sexes, the
difference is in terms of averages.
Below, some of the psychosocial differences related to the factors
described in StressLogosEros will be briefly discussed. These
differences are ones which researchers currently claim they can
In the section on emotion, the three basic stress feelings are
described: anxiety, aggressive
feelings and frustration = despair
(which can develop into depression). These three emotions control
the stress reactions: flight, fight, and the capitulation/defeat
The anxiety and frustration reactions are both more pronounced
in women, and anxiety and despair often appear together, combined
with feelings of guilt. Aggression is most common in men.
These trends are already visible in 1-year-olds.
American researcher and psychologist, Michael Lewis, has done
a study involving 1-year-olds, who are subjected to stress
by being separated from their mother. In the trial room, mothers
place their child on the other side of a low, transparent barrier
(and remain on their side of the barrier).
The girls remain standing or sit down and cry loudly to call
The boys cry as well, but try to overcome the barrier by running
into it, in order to get to their mothers.
Another study has been done using 3-year-olds.
The child sits at a table, and the psychologist gives him or
her a doll with a very loose arm, which falls off when the
child touches it.
The girls become sad and demonstrate feelings of guilt because
they believe they must have held the doll incorrectly.
They also show concern by trying to put the arm back on.
The boys are unaffected by the situation.
It's not their mistake, and they do not try to put the arm back
The frustration reaction, which is characteristic for women,
results in more women than men developing depression (Burnout
Women have various stressors which can trigger frustration, and
in the worst case, a fatigue depression. Women between the ages
of 35-40 with young children and a career are particularly at
Women more commonly have monotonous, emotionally-draining and
poorly paid jobs, and often have little influence on their work
Even in young families, women continue to be the ones who take
on primary responsibility for conditions in the home, and often
maintain the social network in the family, school and leisure
Women are also subject to the stressor that both they and others
place a big emphasis on their appearance, a stressor that is
increased by the media and the fashion and cosmetics industries.
According to American psychologist, Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, because
of their tendency to place a big emphasis on emotional relationships,
women are at risk of endless speculation and brooding over former
and current problems, without ever managing to solve them. She
believes that men have learned to become problem solvers from
an early age.
The dominating male stress emotion is aggression in the widest
sense, ranging from drive, the need to perform, and toughness,
to harshness, dominance and violence.
Boys prefer competitive activities like games and sport.
Men generally have more control, influence and power in their
It can be necessary for men to repress their aggression, especially
anger, for the sake of social adaptation and competitive factors.
Pent up aggression can be detrimental to health.
Aggression which is acted out, type A behaviour (see the Stress
state) with ambition and hostility, can lead to stressed behaviour,
and the combined result of this behaviour can be increased risk
of circulatory diseases (The
Those were some of the differences in the Stress state.
There are also differences in the LogosStress state.
For example, in relation to how we handle stress.
Women more often use emotion-focused coping, which involves
managing stress feelings.
They do this by relaxing and distracting themselves, for example,
by taking a break, talking to somebody, listening to music, eating
or going out and buying something for themselves.
Social contact and support are used most by women, and psychologists
identify this as a positive strategy. However, some have found
in their studies that it can, for example, be a strain for a
group of female friends to have to continuously talk about problems
and conflicts which they run into.
When men use emotion-focused coping, it usually involves sex
and the inappropriate use of alcohol, potentially leading to
abuse. As well as causing damage to health, this can camouflage
a chronic stress state, e.g. a depression.
However, men most commonly use problem-focused
coping, i.e. a
strategy that concentrates on the stressor. They attempt to solve
the specific problem, or to remove or reduce it.
English researcher and psychologist, Simon Baron-Cohen (Cambridge),
concludes on the basis of psychological studies that the male
brain is first and foremost designed to understand and create
The female brain is specially designed for empathy, i.e. social
skills with positive interactions.
These conditions can be demonstrated very early in life.
One day after birth, boys prefer to look at a mechanical mobile
instead of a picture of a woman's face. The reverse is true for
For 1-year-old boys and girls, similar differences were found
in relation to watching a video of cars, and a video of a person
Systemizing is the drive and ability to analyse, research and
It involves a motivation to create control. Thinking in systems
belongs to the LogosStress state.
Systemizers are good at deciphering how things work, working
out the underlying rules in a system, and finding new systems
based on these.
Systems can be found in everything we think, investigate, plan
and do - in machines, houses, towns, all sciences, organisations,
politics, legislation, music, sport, and games.
Systems can also be used to plan and execute military strategies,
or simply for everyday chores.
However, systemizing cannot be used in most everyday social interactions.
Simon Baron-Cohen has been able to confirm in his investigations
the old axiom that women's abilities and skills in relation
to empathy are more developed than men's. Empathy belongs to
the LogosEros state.
body's anti-stress system is also more apparent
in women. Female empathy is an intuition about what is happening
in others. Caring is the result of a motivation to help others,
and together with empathy it also provides the foundation for
ethical relationships in society.
Finally, Baron-Cohen writes that in language tests relating to
general communication, women do best. Girls begin to speak approx.
one month before boys, and have bigger vocabularies. Later on
they are also better at reading and spelling.
Women produce more words in a particular period of time. Their
speech is more grammatically correct. Their sentences are longer
and their pronunciation is better.
Baron-Cohen believes that a link might exist between women's
more pronounced empathy and their better language communication.
Simon Baron-Cohen: The Essential Difference, Allen Lane, The
Penguin Press, 2003.
Stevan E. Hobfoll: Stress, Culture, and Community, Plenum Press,
New York and London, 1998.