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Monday, August 26, 2013

Are women more petty than men?

Gabriel Seah's answer to Gender Differences: Are women more petty than men? - Quora

"We call someone petty when she is concerned or even obsessed with things of minor importance.

In Why Women Apologize More Than Men. Gender Differences in Thresholds for Perceiving Offensive Behavior (Psychological Science, Nov 2010) Schumann and Ross found that the stereotype that women apologise more than men is true.

Digging deeper, they found that this was because women had lower offence thresholds than men. In other words, they apologised more often because they perceived that they had offended other people more often. They were also more likely than men to judge scenarios as offensive.

The corollary of this is that women are more easily offended than men and so in general women appear more petty than men. The flip side is that men appear insensitive to women since they are less likely to view scenarios (and thus their actions or words) as offensive."


"Holmes makes some provocative empirical claims, for instance asserting that in her studies “[W]omen gave 75 per cent of all apologies and received 73 per cent of them.” Holmes also concludes that while women “use significantly more apologies than men,” they also “use more to each other than to men, and they use more to each other than men do to each other.”’ According to Holmes, both genders apologize to women more frequently than they do to men, regardless of the differential in social status between the parties.’ Women apologize most often to female friends, but men apologize most often to socially distant females.’ Women’s apologies rend to “recognize the claims of the person offended and focus on the harmony of the relationship,” while men “tend more than women to use strategies which focus on the apologizer’s loss of face and the resulting status imbalance.”’ She claims that women’s “apologies are predominantly directed to light offenses, whereas men use more apologies than women for more serious offenses.” Holmes also finds that women tend to apologize for breaches in conversational etiquette, while men “pay particular attention to” offenses against another’s time and property.’ When men do apologize, they use more formal language then women. Holmes also found that men reject proportionately more apologies than women do, and women respond to an apology with a counter-apology more often than men do."

--- I Was Wrong: The Meanings of Apologies / Nick Smith

(In other words, everyone is nicer to women than men)


Why Women Apologize More Than Men. Gender Differences in Thresholds for Perceiving Offensive Behavior:
Ed: link to similar paper by one author

"The diary findings both raise doubts about the validity of the claim that men actively resist apologizing and help explain the source of this claim. In their everyday lives, people witness women apologizing more than men and presumably attribute this discrepancy to gender differences in willingness to apologize. In doing so, they perhaps fail to consider the proportion of apologies to perceived offenses, information that is essen- tial in understanding the bases of frequency differences. A ten- dency to ignore the base rates of perceived offenses when estimating the frequency of apologies is consistent with peo- ple’s general tendency to neglect base rates when forming probability judgments (Kahneman & Tversky, 1973). Also, the popular tendency to ascribe men’s lower rates of apologizing to their unwillingness to apologize might stem, in part, from a propensity to prefer dispositional explanations (e.g., fragile egos) over situational ones (e.g., evaluations of the severity of the offense; Ross, 1977)...

In a study that examined teasing within couples, women reported more negative emotions in response to being teased than men reported. This finding suggests that women might be more sensitive to being offended, even if the offense is delivered in a humorous or loving manner (Keltner, Young, Heerey, Oemig, & Monarch, 1998)...

What is the psychological basis of gender differences in perceptions of the severity and frequency of offenses? One possibility is that women might perceive more offenses because they are more focused on the experiences of other people and on maintaining harmony in their relationships (Gilligan, 1994; J.B. Miller, 1984). Consistent with this idea, previous research has demonstrated that, relative to men, women report more guilt after committing transgressions (Bybee, 1998; Lutwak & Ferrari, 1996), greater empathy for victims (Eisenberg & Lennon, 1983), and more willingness to forgive their transgressors (A.J. Miller, Worthington, & McDaniel, 2008).

A second possibility is that men have a higher threshold for both physical and social pain. MacDonald and Leary (2005) argued that physical and social pain share common physiologi- cal mechanisms. Conceivably, if men are more resilient to physical pain, they might also have a higher threshold for social forms of pain. A substantial body of research has demonstrated that men report experiencing less intense and less frequent physical pain than women report experiencing (e.g., Unruh, 1996), as well as being less emotional than women (Barrett, Robin, Pietromonaco, & Eyssell, 1998). Further, a meta-analytic review of sex differences in coping behavior revealed that women rated stressors as more severe than men in the majority of studies that assessed stressor appraisals (Tamres, Janicki, & Helgeson, 2002). None of the reviewed studies reported that women rated stressors as less severe than men did.

[Ed: In other words, men are tougher than women despite the stereotype perpetuated by female magazines that men are big crybabies]

Whatever the basis of the gender differences in judgments of the severity or even the existence of offenses, these discrep- ant perceptions might have unfortunate consequences for mixed-gender interactions. For example, if women perceive offenses that their male romantic partners do not notice, women might interpret an absence of an apology as evidence that their partners are indifferent to their well-being. Similarly, men may regard their female partners as overly sensitive and emotional. Unlike previous interpretations that emphasized a gender difference in willingness to apologize, however, our interpretation does not imply that one gender is at fault for potential disagreements about whether an apology should be offered. Rather, we suggest that men and women unwittingly disagree at an earlier stage in the process: identifying whether or not a transgression has even occurred"
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