Are we really that different?

Why did I research this?

The gender debate has been going on for donkeys but is it actually true, researched and real, besides the differences that society has created? The reason I ask this, is that I am in love with a man who happens to be my darling husband but sometimes I feel the aggravation caused by our different thinking can make me feel rather angry. Is it because he was a caveman and I was a cave woman 20 000 years ago? But aren’t we all the same inside? I mean, I have always preferred dirt, matchbox cars and building miniature towns out of rocks so is the stereotype real or not?

What did I find out?

According to Baron-Cohen’s theory, there are three particular brain types – Type S, which is the systemising type, Type E, which is the empathising type, and type B, which is the balanced brain (a bit of both). Although your sex cannot determine your type, the evidence suggests that on average more males have a systemising brain and more females have an empathising brain. (Designed for Learning, 2013). When investigating the differences in children, at birth, girls look longer at a face, and boys look longer at a suspended mechanical mobile. At 12 months old girls make more eye contact than boys.

Boys, from toddlerhood onwards, are more interested in cars, trucks, planes, guns and swords, building blocks, constructional toys, and mechanical toys – systems.

Boys prefer to put things together, to build toy towers or towns or vehicles.

Baron-Cohen’s Cambridge study found that at one year old, little boys showed a stronger preference to watch a film of cars (mechanical systems), than a film of a person’s face (with a lot of emotional expression). Little girls showed the opposite preference.

The Cambridge team also found that how much eye contact children make is partly determined by a biological factor: prenatal testosterone. This has been demonstrated by measuring this hormone in amniotic fluid. We can presume that eye contact may have something to do with sociability and empathising.

In adults, women are more sensitive to facial expressions. They are better at decoding non-verbal communication, picking up subtle nuances from tone of voice or facial expression, or judging a person’s character. (The Guardian, 2003).

Now we know that the brain can change due to its plasticity so a type E brain can develop more of type S brain if it worked at it. But, if this person didn’t work at it, one could presume that that brain would stay to be mostly that type.

So in summary, my darling husband, whom I thought actually had an obsession with systems and strategies actually has a Type S (systemiser) brain and even though I like systems and miniature towns, I am much more satisfied by people and the connections I have with them., which makes me a Type E, or perhaps a B?  Either way, the next time we can’t agree, I can just go straight ahead and label my husband a systemiser then carry on.

How is this useful?

You know now and when you can’t see eye to eye, this is why. He is most likely a systemiser or perhaps you are and he is an empathiser. Either way… remember this, despite your love, attraction and shared values, you are both different and this is what it is until one of you works at changing.

Baron-Cohen. (2003). The essential difference: Men, women and the extreme male brain. Allen Lane: London

The Guardian. (2003). They can’t help it: Retrieved from

http://www.theguardian.co.uk

Designed for Learning. (2013). Retrieved from

http://www.designedforlearning.co.uk/e-learning-and-sex/