Personality Characteristics

Which sex (male or female) is more anxious, compliant with adults, demanding, depressed, empathic, fearful, immature, interdependent, irritable, people-oriented, socially sensitive, submissive, subtly aggressive (gossiping, snubbing, etc.), and timid? And which sex is more active, aggressive, competent, competitive, dominant, exploratory, impulsive, independent, logical, mature, productive, self-confident, self-reliant, violent, and worldly? Even if you did not grow up in mainstream American culture and disagree

This is it test of your ability io tell which one of five simple figures can be found in a more complex pattern.

Indicate your answer by pulling X through the letter of the figure which you find in the pattem.

NOTE: There is only one of these figures in each pattern, and this figure will always be right side up and exactly the same size as one of the five lettered figures.

ABCDE ABCDE Figure 8-1 Sample Embedded Figures Test item. (Courtesy of the estate of the late Dr. Herman A. Witkin. Adaptations by Wm. C. Brown Co., Publishers.)

with some of the adjectives, you are not likely to experience much difficulty in answering these two questions. In one large study of college students from 30 countries across the world, the respondents consistently checked the following adjectives as descriptive of men: adventurous, strong, dominant, assertive, task-oriented, aggressive, enterprising, and independent. Women, on the other hand, were consistently described as sensitive, gentle, dependent, emotional, sentimental, weak, submissive, and people-oriented (Williams & Best, 1990). Other studies have found girls and women to be more empathic and sensitive to other people (Eisenberg & Lennon, 1983). They are also viewed as more dependent, fearful, irritable, and demanding, but less self-confident than males. Males, on the other hand, are characterized as more active, exploratory, and impulsive than females (Feshbach & Weiner, 1991). In short, as a group, women emphasize interdependence with other people, whereas men emphasize independence from others.

As discussed at length in Chapters 5 and 7 of this book, women are more relationship-oriented than men: They discover their identities through the responsibilities and attachments that characterize their relationships with other people. Whereas the self-esteem of a typical male is based on being successfully independent, the self-esteem of a typical female comes from achieving positive relationships with people (Josephs, Markus, & Tafarodi, 1992; Stake, 1992). Women are more willing than men to seek and accept help from others and to develop social networks that make this possible. In contrast, men are more apt to stress the importance of individual achievement, control, and management of their lives and those of their family and associates. As discussed in Chapter 5, however, sex differences in personality traits typically become less distinct with aging. Older women are somewhat more assertive, independent, and individualistic, whereas older men are more cooperative, submissive, and interdependent than they were in young and middle adulthood.

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