Study confirms women have become more like men

Cohort differences in personality in middle-aged women during a 36-year period. Results from the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg

From Scandinavian Journal of Public Health

This research measures differences in personality in middle-aged Swedish women during a 36-year period. Society has undergone major changes in recent decades, many of which have had a pronounced impact on women’s lives. The results of this survey indicate there has been a transition for women in direction towards a stereotypically ‘‘male’’ personality profile, but not at the expense of traditionally socially important female traits. Comparisons in psychological profile subscales showed an increase in dominance, exhibition, aggression and achievement. The findings support the hypothesis that society and the environment influence personality.

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Abstract

Aim: To investigate secular trends in personality traits in adult female populations. Methods: Two representative, population-based cohorts of women, 38 (n = 318) and 50 (n = 593) years of age participated in a health examination in 1968 and 2004 in Gothenburg, Sweden. The Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) and Cesarec-Marke Personality Schedule (CMPS) were used to measure personality traits. Socioeconomic and lifestyle variables (personal income, education, marital status, children at home, physical activity and smoking) were reported. Results: In both age groups, secular comparisons in psychological profile subscales showed an increase in dominance, exhibition, aggression and achievement. Only small divergences were seen concerning affiliation, guilt feelings, nurturance and succorance. EPI showed a corresponding rise in extroversion. Social data showed a statistically significant increase in percentage of unmarried women, personal income levels, and higher educational achievement. While around 70% of women in 1968—69 had elementary school educati2on only, around 90% had high school or university education in 2004—05. Conclusions: The results indicate major transitions in the adult Swedish female population in the direction of a more stereotypically ‘‘male’’ personality profile, but not at the expense of traditionally socially important female traits, which remained constant. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that society and the environment influence personality.

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Article details:
Andre, M., Lissner, L., Bengtsson, C., Hallstrom, T., Sundh, V., & Bjorkelund, C. (2010). Cohort differences in personality in middle-aged women during a 36-year period. Results from the Population Study of Women in Gothenburg Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 38 (5), 457-464 DOI: 10.1177/1403494810371247

     
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