Men See Black and White, Women See Shades of Gray

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Shades of Gray According to a recent study, your male co-workers or supervisors might be more likely to make quick decisions in the workplace. Women, however, seem more prone to deliberating and seeing things in shades of gray, according to the study conducted by researchers at the University of Warwick.

These findings indicate that men should tend to excel in fields where quick decisions are essential, and that women should have an advantage in situations that require a more carefully thought-out approach.

The researchers measured this by asking participants whether each of 50 objects fitted partially, fully, or not at all into certain categories. The 50 objects were ones likely to stimulate debate or disagreement about which category they fitted into. For instance: Is a tomato a fruit? Is paint a tool?

The research showed that men were more likely to make absolute category judgments (a tomato is either a fruit or not), whereas women made less certain category judgments (a tomato can "sort of" belong in the fruit category). The women surveyed tended to be much more nuanced in their responses and were 23 percent more likely to assign an object to the "partial" category.

"Of course, simply because we have found a significant sex difference in how men and women categorize does not mean that one method is intrinsically better than the other," says University of Warwick psychologist Dr. Zachary Estes. "For instance, male doctors may be more likely to quickly and confidently diagnose a set of symptoms as a disease. Although this brings great advantages in treating diseases early, it obviously has massive disadvantages if the diagnosis is actually wrong. In many cases, a more open approach to categorizing or diagnosing would be more effective."

The best bet might be for men and women to know what their natural tendencies are, and make adjustments where they seem to be necessary.


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