A Systematic Review and New Analyses of the Gender-Equality Paradox

Perspect Psychol Sci. 2024 Jan 3:17456916231202685. doi: 10.1177/17456916231202685. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Some studies show that living conditions, such as economy, gender equality, and education, are associated with the magnitude of psychological sex differences. We systematically and quantitatively reviewed 54 articles and conducted new analyses on 27 meta-analyses and large-scale studies to investigate the association between living conditions and psychological sex differences. We found that sex differences in personality, verbal abilities, episodic memory, and negative emotions are more pronounced in countries with higher living conditions. In contrast, sex differences in sexual behavior, partner preferences, and math are smaller in countries with higher living conditions. We also observed that economic indicators of living conditions, such as gross domestic product, are most sensitive in predicting the magnitude of sex differences. Taken together, results indicate that more sex differences are larger, rather than smaller, in countries with higher living conditions. It should therefore be expected that the magnitude of most psychological sex differences will remain unchanged or become more pronounced with improvements in living conditions, such as economy, gender equality, and education.

Keywords: cognition; individual differences; living conditions; personality; sex differences; sex/gender.