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Yes it does.

Does masculine character exist? [Yes, and it’s a real thing]

In a previous article I looked at the dictionary definitions of masculinity. One thing I discovered is that all the definitions referred to: “qualities and characteristics that are traditionally male”. The definitions didn’t specify what those qualities and characteristics actually are. And while characteristics and character aren’t exactly the same thing, I was wondering if there was some scientific evidence that there is such a thing a masculine character.

Masculine character: Does it exist?

Why would I want to have this evidence? Well it seems to me that behavior is at least influenced by character. If we can see that masculine and feminine characters are different, that means it is part of the puzzle in explaining different behaviors and interests. And possibly we might be able to deduct what type of interests and behaviors are masculine.

Character

We should start with identifying what character actually is.

Cambridge dictionary tells us the following: “the particular combination of qualities in a person or place that makes them different from others

Dictionary.com: “The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.”

Ok, so it’s what makes everyone different from someone else. That does raise some more questions though.

Is character different from behavior?

What’s the difference between a person’s behavior and character?

Behavior:

Cambridge dictionary: “a particular way of acting”

Dictionary.com: “manner of behaving or acting.”

It’s interesting that both definitions mention “acting”. If you think of an actor, you think of someone who isn’t themselves temporarily. Does that mean that character is completely unrelated to behavior?

Not quite, according to this article: Click!

It seems that character is a big influence on behavior, but so is the situation. A character is a set of characteristics and qualities that make someone different from others. Behaviors are your actions and reactions to others.

Most people will behave in a socially acceptable manner most of the time. But there will be situations where they react differently from someone else. And since there is a range of acceptable social behaviors, one character will do things differently than another.

You can change your behavior relatively easily for an amount of time if you want to. Character seems to be much harder to change.

Is it possible to qualify character?

Now we know what character is and how it’s different from behavior, let’s take a look if it’s possible to qualify a person’s character.

It seems that the current best way to get a handle on someone’s personality is the “Big 5” test. Check out this article on Bigthink.com for more information. The results of this test describe a person’s personality by scoring them on 5 traits. These five traits are divided up in 2 aspects each, so 10 aspects in total.

The big 5 test scores a person on the following traits and aspects:

Traits Aspects of trait
Openness to Experience Openness/Creativity and Intellect
Conscientiousness Orderliness and Industriousness
Extraversion and introversion Enthusiasm and Assertiveness
Agreeableness Politeness and Compassion
Neuroticism Withdrawal and Volatility

Gender differences in studies

If there is such a thing as a masculine and feminine character that must mean men and women will receive different scores in this test. Keep in mind we’re looking for averages. Everyone’s character is different by definition. The average size shoes would not fit many people. However, many people will be quite close to the average size.

So what I want to see is if the average male gets significantly different scores than the average female, since that will be true for a large portion of the population.

Studies

Let’s take a look at some studies to see if we can find some scientific evidence for differences between the genders. Here are two interesting studies you can take a look at.

Gender Differences in Personality across the Ten Aspects of the Big Five

The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences in Personality

I won’t rehash the complete studies; the links are there if you want to read them.

Looking at the studies, I think it’s safe to say that there are differences between the genders. What the cause of that difference is isn’t as clear. I think it’s also not super important in this case.  Whatever the cause, it’s probable the differences have existed for a long time and will persist for quite a while.

What are the differences?

The five areas of the big 5 are all divided up in 2 traits. These traits are combined for a single score in one of the five areas. So, while the five areas might not show huge differences in scores, (Agreeableness differs the most) the individual traits show bigger differences. E.g. a score of 4 and 1 on two traits produces the same average as scores of 1 and 4. But since the scores for the traits are different, you can’t say those two people have the same character.

What are the differences?

“Women score higher, on average, on enthusiasm, compassion, politeness, orderliness, volatility, withdrawal, and openness, while men score higher on assertiveness, industriousness and intellect.”

So men score higher on assertiveness, industriousness and intellect. (Don’t confuse intellect with IQ!!)

Or in other words; Men are clearer about what they want, more confident, are more interested in abstract ideas over feelings and are more career oriented.  

What does it mean?

The majority of men has a different character than the majority of women (on average). The average masculine character is different than the average feminine character. Yeah I know, big surprise right?

If you have a different character you will be interested in different things and have different behaviors. Of course you can modify your behavior but changing your personality is a lot more difficult.

For most people it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are differences in characters but it’s good to have some scientific support.

Distributions

Example of a normal distribution

Keep in mind that characters seem to be pretty much normally distributed. That means that almost half the people are “more masculine” and “less masculine” and some people are perfectly average.

The differences between people of the same gender are much bigger than between the averages of the gender. The difference between the most and least masculine man is much bigger than the difference between the average man and woman.

Conclusion

If you look at the 10 aspects of the big 5 test, you can see some significant differences between the genders. That means it makes sense to say that there is such a thing as a masculine character and a feminine character.

“Women score higher, on average, on enthusiasm, compassion, politeness, orderliness, volatility, withdrawal, and openness, while men score higher on assertiveness, industriousness and intellect.”

Since character plays a role in behavior, it makes sense that men like different things and have different behaviors than women.