Jordan Peterson on psychological differences/similarities between the sexes

jordan_peterson2nIn a recent interview Jordan Peterson took the opportunity to clarify his position on the vexed question ‘are the sexes different or the same,’  which he definitively answers in favour of males and females being more alike than they are different. – PW


JORDAN PETERSON: “I am a psychometrician, that’s technically my job and we study measurement, and it’s a truism of psychomentrics that men and women are more the same than they are different. Y’now it’s funny because I’ve been sort of positioned as someone who is constantly on about the differences between men and women, but men and women are more the same than they are different, And what that means is the development of masculinity in women is perhaps not as important as the development of masculinity in men, but its damned important. It’s like a close second.”

And from an earlier interview:

Are men and women more similar or more different? Well it depends on how you define the terms.

They are more similar. Why? Well they’re the same species, so we could start with that. But the question is what are the differences and how do they manifest themselves and are those manifestations important?

Here’s an example, if you took a random woman out of the population and a random man, and you had to bet on who was more temperamentally aggressive, if you bet on the man you’d be right 60 percent of the time. But you’d be wrong 40 percent of the time and that’s not a walloping difference right 60 ~ 40. Its not like 90 ~ 10, so there’s a lot of overlap between men and women in terms of their levels of aggression. And you think well they’re more the same, yes.

So then let’s play a slightly different game: lets pick the 1 in 100 most aggressive persons from the general population; and they are all men, and that’s why all the people in prison are men. So even though on average most men and women, 90 – 95 percent of them [are similar], and often if the women are in prison its because they got tangled up with the really bad guy.

So one of the problems is that differences at the extreme are where the differences really start to manifest themselves. So you can have a small difference at the level of the average, but out at the extremes it starts to make a massive difference.

Further study materials:

Robert Sapolsky, Humans: tournament or pair-bonding species?
Janet Hyde, The Gender Similarities Hypothesis (2005), and Gender Similarities and Differences (2014)

Peterson differences


More articles about Jordan Peterson:
– A brief critique of Jordan Peterson’s use of “Jungian” sources
– The Gynocentrism of Jordan Peterson

4 thoughts on “Jordan Peterson on psychological differences/similarities between the sexes

  1. The question “‘are the sexes different or the same?” is silly, as is the answer “men and women are more the same than they are different.” If you’re standing on the edge of a cliff, a small difference in position makes a huge difference in your fate.

    For reasoning rather merely ideological puffing, you must evaluate specific differences in their specific context. Preceding the birth of a child, a woman normally carries the developing child in her womb for about nine months. How significant is that woman / man difference? For most desk jobs, little. For working in a coal mine under conditions of poverty and no feasible time off, a lot. For having custody of the child after divorce, it shouldn’t matter at all.

  2. Similarities do not matter. If men and women were 99.9% similar, everyone would focus on the 0.01% differences. Such is the way of humans: we tell things apart by myopically focusing on ever shrinking differences.

    • “we tell things apart by myopically focusing on ever shrinking differences.”

      That captures it in a good pithy statement. A way of ID-ing things.

      Robert Brockway has a theory that we are hardwired to fixate on differences between the sexes in order to exaggerate and encourage reproductive attraction and success. He also suggests same with human’s special interest in racial and species differences – tells who are our ingroup and who or what might be dangerous. He may be basing that on scientific findings somewhere….. can’t remember if he mentioned.

      • “a theory that we are hardwired to fixate on differences between the sexes in order to exaggerate and encourage reproductive attraction and success”

        That is certainly part of it. Nobody finds androgyny attractive. Moreover in cultures where men and women are made more similar (such as in the West through assaulting traditional sex roles, permitting women to dress like men, effeminizing men etc.), men and women come up with new ways to artificially enhance our perception of sexual dimorphism, because the natural ways in which we can tell sexes apart diminish. This was really clear to me when I went to the US, coming from Turkish culture. In the US, some really strange things are “gendered”: like eating meat is a “man thing” and vegetarianism is “feminine”, driving a certain kind of car is “manly” and some other (like electric/hybrid cars) is feminine, and other weird stuff like that, which are not “gendered” at all in Turkish culture. Although I might be wrong, and this might be a function of women’s increasing shit testing of men in a more gynocentric culture (rather than a function of decreasing perception of sexual dimorphism), where shit testing seeps into every little corner of life due to shifting towards a more Pareto distributed, more tournament-like mating system.

        But I think it goes much further than that.
        From an evolutionary perspective it makes sense. If you think of low-intelligence animals, or of our lizard parts of the brain, as defence mechanism it needs to recognize shapes from the environment to detect other organisms. We know that so many creatures have sophisticated camouflage tactics, stealth tactics, hiding tactics etc. So organisms might have evolved to hone in ever smaller differences to tell friend apart from foe.

        This also makes sense in the context of humans. Lions, tigers, bears, bulls, snakes etc. look *significantly* different than us (though this is subjective, how can one measure this?) but hostile foreign tribe members would look almost just like us (from the “unintelligent” lizard brain perspective). So we would have to hone in really really hard at very very small, subtle differences in facial structure, height, tiny differences in skin color, hair color, smell etc. This makes even more sense if we consider tribal practices of face paint, feathers, piercings, tattoos, hair styles etc. that tribes always used to distinguish themselves from others and also use as an ID procedure, like a military uniform.