Sex Differences in Variability in Personality: A Study in Four Samples
Peter Borkenau et al., 2013
Men vary more than women in cognitive abilities and physical attributes, and we expected that men would vary more in personality too. That this has not been found previously may reﬂect that (a) personality was measured by self-reports that confound target sex with informant sex, and (b) men actually vary more but accentuate personality differences less than women.
We analyzed informant reports and self-reports on the NEO Personality Inventory ( NEO PI -R or NEO PI -3) collected for two community and two student samples from four countries: Czech Republic ( N = 714; age M= 36.1, SD = 14.1; 58% women), Estonia ( N = 1,685; age M= 42.6, SD = 13.4; 58% women), Belgium ( N = 345; age M= 18.4, SD = 3.0; 78% women), and Germany ( N = 302; age M= 23.4, SD = 2.7; 56% women).
Higher male than female variability was found in each sample for informant reports of Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. Men but not women were overrepresented in both tails of the distributions of several personality traits.
According to liability-threshold models of mental disorders, this may contribute to men ’s overrepresentation in some kinds of deviant groups.
"The present study shows that although higher variability between men than between women is not found in self-reports of personality, informant reports vary signiﬁcantly more for male than for female targets. That was found for all traits except Neuroticism, and it was found in each of the four samples."