Now we actually have science to back up what many of us have observed throughout our lives—that women often seem to make better decisions than men. I’ve always thought of it as using their intuition better—that spidey-sense that lies somewhere between common sense and emotional reasoning.
However, it seems that neuroscientists at the University of Southern California and at Duke University have found that it’s about how the sexes operate under stressful circumstances that separates the men from the women—and according to them it all comes down to the stress hormone, cortisol. Apparently when under stress, men take more risks than women which often leads to a failed outcome. Women on the other hand, cut their risks when under stress, avoiding adding to their mistakes and instead, playing it safer.
Another fascinating outcome from one study was that when under stress, women demonstrated higher levels of empathy. For instance, if they were tasked with getting up in front of a large audience to do a presentation, their empathy for anyone facing the same situation went up. But men instead became more egocentric—if I did it, what’s the big deal?
If we apply these finding to the interactions between the sexes, they help to explain a few things. For instance, men can be very unsympathetic to the feelings/struggles of a child while women are very tuned in to them. This can also be seen in male supervisors and managers at work—they often take the attitude of just do it, others have, I have, what is the big deal. Whereas, women who have been there get it and are usually supportive that it can be hard.
The next time you run across this in your significant other or even with a male at work—you may want to try a different approach. Explaining where you are coming from and asking in a close-ended and unemotional way for help or support from the male in your life may get you the best results. Logic, not emotion is a better way to reach them. While you are at it, remind yourself it’s biology, and not personal.