Matters of the Brain: Why Men and Women Are So Different

Matters of the Brain: Why Men and Women Are So Different

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A prevalent understanding, particularly in the 1980s, was that boys and girls are born cognitively the same. It was the way parents and society treated them that made them different. Since then, a preponderance of research has called this belief into question. The majority of today’s psychologists agree that some of the differences exhibited by male and female brains are innate. How much, rather than whether, biology contributes is where the unusually heated debate is now focused.

“We do socialize our boys and girls differently, but the contribution of biology is not zero,” said Diane Halpern, a psychology professor who has been studying cognitive gender differences for 25 years. Some of the many gender differences that float in popular consciousness have more support than others, and the ones that have been consistently found across cultures, life spans and even across species are the most likely — but by no means guaranteed — to have some biological underpinning.

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