Tag Archives: gender differences

“Honest Confidence” Enables Performance, Perceived Power

Confidence mobilizes people’s performance and increases others’ perceptions of competence, likeability, and persuasiveness – but may lead to careless errors that undermine performance.

David Dunning

David Dunning

Women and men show significantly different levels of confidence, with cascading effects on performance and participation in specific occupations.

For example women tend to underestimate their performance in scientific reasoning, but actually perform about equally to men, found Cornell’s David Dunning and Washington State University psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger in their investigation of women’s low representation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) academic programs and work roles.
They concluded that women underestimate their performance, based on lower levels of confidence.

Joyce Ehrlinger

Joyce Ehrlinger

In a related tasks, Dunning and Ehrlinger invited these volunteers to participate in a science competition for prizes.
Women were less likely to accept the invitation than men, also attributed to lower confidence in their capabilities in scientific tasks.
The researchers pointed to low confidence as a source of women’s proportionally lower participation in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) job roles.

Jessica Kennedy

Jessica Kennedy

Confidence – even unjustified confidence – seems to lead  observers to perceive assured individuals as competent, high status leaders, found Wharton’s  Jessica A. Kennedy, Cameron Anderson of University of California at Berkeley, and Don A. Moore.

Cameron Anderson

Cameron Anderson

They asked more than 240 students to estimate their confidence in identifying “historical” names and events, which included real and bogus entries.
Some participants said they could identify items that were actually fake, indicating that they believed – or wanted to convey – they knew more than they actually did.

Don A Moore

T Don A Moore

Then, Kennedy and team asked participants to rate each other based on status in the group.
Volunteers who said they could identify the most fraudulent items were rated as most prominent in the group, suggesting that confidence, even false confidence, contributes to perceived status.
The team suggested that overconfident volunteers genuinely believed their self-assessments, their confidence persuaded their peers of their task skill and commitment to the group’s success.

Ernesto Reuben

Ernesto Reuben

Honest overconfidence,” was also observed by Ernesto Reuben of Columbia, Paola Sapienza of Northwestern University, and University of Chicago’s Luigi Zingales, in their finding that men rated their performance on a set of math problems to be about 30 percent better than it was, whereas women underestimated their performance.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck

The power of honest and unjustified confidence may be rooted in childhood socialization patterns, observed Stanford’s Carol Dweck:  Boys’ mistakes are attributed to a lack of effort (whereas)…girls … see mistakes as a reflection of their deeper qualities.”
These different types of feedback lead men to attribute negative outcomes to external factors like unfairly difficult task, but women attribute undesirable results to their personal qualities like low ability.

Confidence is reflected in employees’ willingness to speak in work settings, and those who speak more than others are considered dominant.
However, women who exert authority by speaking more than others, even when they are in senior organizational levels, may alienate others and be seen as less capable.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Yale’s Victoria Brescoll found that even senior-level women hesitate to speak as much senior-level men due to anticipated negative reaction from others.

These concerns were validated by Brescolls investigation of men’s and women’s rating of a fictitious female CEO who talked more than other people.
Both women and men evaluated the female CEO as significantly less competent and less suited to leadership than a male CEO who talked for the same amount of time.
However, when the female CEO was described as talking less than others, participants rated her as significantly more competent.

Roger Shepard

Roger Shepard

Similarly, a high-power male who talked much less was evaluated as incompetent and undeserving of leadership, just like the high-power female who spoke more than average.
Brescoll suggested that these reactions are associated with stereotypic gender expectations.

Roger Shepard-Jacqueline MetzlerAs a result, women are unlikely to increase confidence, perceived status and power by speaking and behaving like men because this approach would violate gender stereotype expectations, leading to a “backlash” effect.

Zachary Estes

Zachary Estes

However, when women are “primed” to experience confidence, they performed better on 3D rotation spatial tasks in Roger Shepard and Jacqueline Metzler’s Mental Rotations Test, reported University of Warwick’s Zachary Estes and Sydney Felker, then of University of Georgia Health Center.

In one set of tests, women and men performed similarly when women and men again completed each item and reported their:
Confidence level in their answers,
-Whether they would change their responses if given the opportunity.

Women’s performance dropped below previous scores whereas men’s increased significantly when they elected to change answers.
Second-guessing” and “over-thinking” eroded women’s confidence which affected their scores.

Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura

People who have a strong sense of efficacy focus their attention on analyzing and figuring out solutions to problems, whereas those beset with self-doubts of their efficacy tend to turn their attention inwardly and become self-preoccupied with evaluative concerns when their efforts prove unsuccessful,” explained Stanford’s Albert Bandura and Forest Jourdan.

Robert K Merton

Robert K Merton

However, both men and women significantly improved their scores after they were told that they achieved high scores on the previous test irrespective of actual score.
This finding demonstrates the performance-enhancing effect of positive expectancy, and replicated “The Rosenthal Effect,” or “self-fulfilling prophecy,” described by Robert K. Merton of Columbia.

Jeffrey Vancouver

Jeffrey Vancouver

Confidence may have performance-eroding effects despite much previous research documenting performance-enhancing effects, according to Ohio University’s Jeffrey Vancouver and Charles Thompson, with University of Cincinnati’s E. Casey Tischner, and Dan Putka of Human Resources Research Organization.

Dan Putka

Dan Putka

They primed confidence or “self-efficacy” among half the participants in an analytic game, and found that those who received positive feedback about their performance didn’t perform as well in the next game, and were more likely to make logical errors.

Vancouver and team suggested that participants whose confidence was artificially-inflated tended to apply less mental effort to challenging tasks before attempting the next item.

Fortunately, actual skill trumps inflated confidence.
Women considering technical training and careers may be reassured by Kennedy and team’s observation that, “…Acting capable was beneficial, but actually being capable was better.”

However, these findings suggest that women aspiring to STEM careers are likely to be more effective when they create a “hybrid” style of communication and professional presence, drawing on behaviors that demonstrate confidence, competence, and proactivity without violating gender-linked expectations.

-*How do you capitalize on the performance-enhancing effects of confidence without alienating others or reducing future performance efforts?

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How Effective are Strategic Threats, Anger, and Unpredictability in Negotiations?

Most researchers conclude that negotiators who establish a collaborative atmosphere for a “win-win” solution achieve superior results.

Marwan Sinaceur

Marwan Sinaceur

However, Marwan Sinaceur of  INSEAD and Stanford’s Larissa Tiedens investigated the potentially-risky tactic of employing strategic anger in negotiations, and found that anger expressions increase expressers’ advantage and “ability to claim value” when negotiation partners think they have few or poor alternatives.

Larissa Tiedens

Larissa Tiedens

Sinaceur and Tiedens suggested that anger expression communicates toughness, leading most non-angry counterparts to concede more to an angry negotiator.
However, other studies report that people have more negative reactions when women display anger,

-*But what about the impact of “strategic” expressions of anger that aren’t actually felt?

Stephane Cote

Stephane Cote

Ivona Hideg

Ivona Hideg

University of Toronto’s Stéphane Côté collaborated with Ivona Hideg of Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Amsterdam’s Gerben van Kleef to evaluate the impact of surface acting (showing anger that is not truly felt) on the behavior of negotiation counterparts.

They found that disingenuous anger expressions can backfire, leading to intractable, escalating demands, attributed to reduced trust.

Gerben van Kleef

Gerben van Kleef

In contrast, “deep acting” anger that is actually felt, decreased negotiation demands, as demonstrated in Sinaceur and Tiedens’ work.

-*Are threats more effective than expressing anger in eliciting concessions in negotiation?

Christophe Haag

Christophe Haag

Sinaceur and team collaborated with Margaret Neale of Stanford and Emlyon Business School’s Christophe Haag, and reported that threats delivered with “poise,” confidence and self-control trump anger to achieve great concessions.
A potential negotiation “work-around” is expressing inconsistent emotions in negotiations.

Adam Hajo

Adam Hajo

Saraceur teamed with van Kleef with Rice University’s Adam Hajo, and Adam Galinsky of Columbia, and found that negotiators who shifted among angry, happy, and disappointed expressions made recipients feel less control over the outcome, and extracted more concessions from their counterparts.

Adam Galinsky

Adam Galinsky

Emotional inconsistency proved more powerful than expressed anger in  extracting concessions, so women may achieve superior negotiation outcomes with varied, unpredictable emotional expression.

-*How do you use and manage emotional expression in negotiations?

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Women, Men, and Time: Differences in “Managing” a Limited Resource

Francis Wade

Francis Wade

Special thanks to Francis Wade of 2TimeLabs for his sharing his expertise.

Though women and men have the same amount of time, women seem to manage more time demands and have developed more skillful time practices to grapple with perceived “time scarcity,” according to detailed time-use studies by New South Wales’s Lyn Craig and Janeen Baxter of University of Queensland.

Lyn Craig

Lyn Craig

They found that working mothers invest more hours taking care of children and doing housework than their working husbands.

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

This finding validates the idea that women do a “Second Shift” of work – at home and at the office, described by University of California Berkeley’s Arlie Hochschild.

Brigid Schulte

Brigid Schulte

Personal anecdotes from of women stretched between “two shifts” validate these research findings, distilled in journalist Brigid Schulte’s popular Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time.

Therese Macan

Therese Macan

To grapple with time demands that may seem to outweigh available time resources, women typically engage in significantly more mechanical time management behaviors like planning, listing, and scheduling, found University of Missouri’s Therese Macan, Comila Shahani of Hofstra University and Robert Dipboye of University of South Florida, who developed the Time Management Behaviors (TMB) inventory

Abdülkadir Pehlivan

Abdülkadir Pehlivan

Many, but not all, gender differences appear to hold across countries and cultures:  Like Macan’s team, Karadeniz Technical University’s Abdülkadir Pehlivan noted that women use more listing, planning and programming than men.

In contrast, male volunteers said they feel more in charge of their time management behaviors, even when they don’t employ the same systematic time procedures as women.

Ranjita Misra

Ranjita Misra

However in a U.S. investigation, females reported better perceived “control” of time, based on using “mechanical” techniques like setting and prioritizing goals as well as planning, reported West Virginia University’s Ranjita Misra and Michelle McKean.
In addition, women said they organize tasks and workspaces more frequently than men.

Despite this efficiency, women paid a price with higher anxiety and lower leisure satisfaction, which may explain the need to develop improved practices.
Males, in contrast, reported more leisure activities and less anxiety.

Tanya Meade

Tanya Meade

In addition, Australian Time Organisation and Management Scale (ATOMS), developed by University of Western Sydney’s Tanya Covic Meade, B.J. Adamson, M. Lincoln and P.L. Kench revealed that 71% of women volunteers recognize this gender difference in time practices:  Women respondents and Meade’s team concluded that “females may be better at carrying out behavioral activities associated with time management, such as making lists and keeping a diary.”

Mark Trueman

Mark Trueman

Another study found that female student volunteers reported considerably greater use of time “management” skills than male students in a five-year investigation by Keele University’s Mark Trueman and James Hartley and in similar research by Al Ain University of Science and Technology Ahmad Saleh Al Khatib.

Nurten Kaya

Nurten Kaya

These gender differences also persisted in specific working environments such as nursing in University of Istanbul’s study by Hatice Kaya with Nurten Kaya, Aylin Öztürk Palloş, Leyla Küçük, which found that female students were able to manage their time better than male students.

Jale Eldeleklioglu

Jale Eldeleklioglu

Because time is a limited and valuable resource, Uludag University’s Jale Eldeleklioglu suggested the life skill of time “management” should begin at a young age in school: ” male students’ time management skills are not as developed as female students’ (so we need) more programs to reduce anxiety and improve students’ time management skills.

-*What differences have you observed in the ways that women and men interact with available time?

-*What practices have you found beneficial in managing time demands?

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Women’s Multitasking Skill Linked to Neural Network Patterns

Diane Halpern

Diane Halpern

Differences between men’s and women’s performance on cognitive tasks, particularly mathematics and science have been observed for decades, with men generally excelling at motor and spatial tasks and women excelling in memory and social cognition tasks.

Camilla Benbow

Camilla Benbow

Claremont McKenna College’s Diane F. Halpern led an extensive review of these performance differences with Camilla P. Benbow of Vanderbilt University, University of Missouri‘s David C. Geary, Ruben C. Gur of University of Pennsylvania, Janet Shibley Hyde and Morton Ann Gernsbacher of University of Wisconsin. 

David Geary

David Geary

Their evidence “provided no single or simple answer” to contrasting skills by gender but a comprehensive brain imaging study of more than 400 males and more than 500 females between ages 8 and 22 years, provides evidence for popular observations.

Madhura Ingalhalika

Madhura Ingalhalika

Using diffusion tensor imaging, University of Pennsylvania’s Madhura Ingalhalikar, Alex Smith, Drew Parker, Theodore D. Satterthwaite, Mark A. Elliott, Kosha Ruparel, Raquel E. Gur, Ruben C. Gur and Ragini Verma with Hakon Hakonarson of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, demonstrated that male and female brains differ in the network of neural connections.
Known as the “structural connectome,” these connections between neural structures were described by Indiana University’s Olaf Sporns, who reviewed imaging techniques to visualize their activity.

Ted Satterthwaite

Ted Satterthwaite

These gender-linked structural differences result in differing competencies.
Ingalhalikar’s team observed that male brains structures show more connections within the front and back of the brain hemisphere in the supratentorial region.

Olaf Sporns

Olaf Sporns

This area connects perception and coordinated action and enables males’ skill in quickly perceiving and applying information to a single complex task, spatial reasoning, and learning motor skills.

Ingalhalikar connectomeIn contrast, female brains contain more neural connections between hemispheres in supratentorial regions. 
This connection pattern enables females to recall faces and execute multiple complex tasks simultaneously more easily than males due the increased neural connections between analytical and intuitive processing modes.

Dardo Tomasi

Dardo Tomasi

Building on earlier work on these differences by Brookhaven National Lab’s Dardo Tomasi and Nora D. Volkow of National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ingalhalikar’s team found these differences were reversed in the cerebellar connections, where male brains showed greater intrahemispheric connectivity and female brains demonstrated more interhemispheric connections.

Nora Volkow

Nora Volkow

These structural differences lead to different development for girls and boys from an early age, and result in significant, less modifiable differences by adolescence and adulthood. 

Frequently-observed differences in male and female performance are rooted in different neural connection patterns by gender.

 -*What exceptions have you seen to findings of women’s skill in multitasking and social insight, and men’s competence in spatial reasoning and motor skill acquisition?

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Inferring, Predicting Others’ Thoughts, Intentions, Behavior

Developing accurate inferences about others’ likely concerns, expectations, priorities, and actions is essential for successful social interactions in setting goals and mitigating risks.

Demis Hassabis

Demis Hassabis

University College London’s Demis Hassabis collaborated with R. Nathan Spreng of Cornell University, Vrije Universiteit’s Andrei A. Rusu, Harvard’s Clifford A. Robbins and Daniel Schacter, and Raymond A. Mar of York University to investigate how the brain develops predictions about others’ thoughts and behaviors.

R. Nathan Spreng

R. Nathan Spreng

Volunteers read about four fictional protagonists’ personality traits (Agreeableness, Extraversion) in experimental scenarios, then imagined each character’s behaviors in different situations.
Each volunteer then participated in fMRI brain scans.

Andrei Rusu

Andrei Rusu

Medial prefrontal cortex activity in the brain was associated with accurate inferences about protagonists’ personality characteristics and behaviors, demonstrating that “brain activity can reveal whom someone is thinking about,” according to Hassabis and team.

Clifford Robbins

Clifford Robbins

In addition, Team Hassabis noted that lateral temporal cingulate cortex activity occurred with participants accurately determined protagonists’ degree of agreeableness, whereas activity in the posterior cingulate cortex activity was associated with correct judgments of protagonists’ degree of extraversion.

Daniel Schachter

Daniel Schachter

Hassabis’s group also determined that brain regions responsible for processing inferences of personality traits and related behaviors are functionally coupled with areas active in differentiating individual identities.

Raymond Mar

Raymond Mar

This means that specific brain regions “code” inferred personality traits in others and synthesize these characteristics into “personality models” that represent individuals and their likely behavior in new situations.

Matthew Hertenstein

Matthew Hertenstein

Matthew Hertenstein teamed with DePauw University colleagues Brittany Bulleit and Ariane Jaskolka, UC Berkeley’s Dacher Keltner and Betsy App of University of Denver to demonstrate that people can infer others’ emotional intentions through unseen touch.

Brittany Bulleit-Ariane Jaskolka

Brittany Bulleit-Ariane Jaskolka

The researcher investigated whether 200 volunteers between the ages of 18-40 working in pairs were able to accurately identify emotional intentions when touched.

Dacher Keltner

Dacher Keltner

Participants in the United States and Spain accurately perceived anger, fear, disgust, love, gratitude, and sympathy conveyed by unseen touch at statistically significant levels, but not happiness, sadness, surprise, embarrassment, envy, or pride.
Observers also accurately identified emotions conveyed by participants’ “tactile displays” when they touched paired volunteers.

Betsy App

Betsy App

Gian Gonzaga of UCLA extended these findings to consider inferring and detecting emotion in male-female communication pairs with Keltner and University of Wisconsin’s Daniel Ward.

Gian Gonzaga

Gian Gonzaga

Guided by Keltner’s “approach/inhibition theory of power,” in their experiments, they attributed high power to one volunteer in a communication pair and compared communications when both people were in an equal-power condition during teasing interactions between women and men.

They found that participants endowed with high power showed behavioral disinhibition, and made less accurate judgments of the communication partner’s emotion.
In contrast individuals in the low-power role demonstrated more behavioral inhibition and reported greater self-conscious and anxiety.

Gonzaga and team confirmed men in engaged in power behaviors even when participants were attributed equal power, and this trend was greatest when man were assigned the power role while interacting with a female partner.
This behavior was less apparent when both participants were men, confirming the continuing existence of power differentials between women and men.

The team found gender-related “emotion blindness” when male-female pairs misinterpreted each other’s attempts to convey specific emotions, confirming popular observations and reports by couples therapists.

Male pairs were able to accurately detect anger, but men did not understand women’s attempts to convey anger in male-female pairs.
In contrast, women did not accurately detect men’s attempts to convey compassion, but female pairs accurately perceived expressions of happiness.

Sympathy was accurately communicated only when at least one woman was in the volunteer pair, demonstrating gender-related limitations to accurate empathy and emotionally intelligent interpersonal inferences.

-*How do you develop accurate inferences about others’ opinions and likely behaviors?
-*How do you revise your models of others’ personalities?

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Executives with Daughters and Sisters: More Generous?

Michael Dahl

Michael Dahl

Cristian Dezső

Cristian Dezső

Male CEOs paid employees more after the birth of their first child when it is a daughter, but paid employees an average of $100 less annually after the birth of a son, according to Michael Dahl of Aalborg University with University of Maryland’s Cristian Dezső and David Gaddis Ross of Columbia Business School in their study of more than 10,000 Danish companies between 1996 and 2006.

David Gaddis Ross

David Gaddis Ross

Female employees typically received higher wages after the birth the CEO’s first child of either gender, and were less adversely-affected than their male colleagues by wage decreases after the birth of CEOs’ children.

Paul Van Lange

Paul Van Lange

People with more sisters tended to show more generous “pro-social” behaviors in laboratory studies of 600 volunteers who played a simulation game requiring decisions about resource-sharing with strangers, according to Paul Van Lange of Free University in Amsterdam with colleagues Ellen De Bruin, Wilma Otten, and Jeffrey Joireman of Washington State University.

Jeffrey Joireman

Jeffrey Joireman

Alice Eagly at Northwestern University suggests that men with sisters are significantly more likely to help others, based on her meta-analysis of 172 research studies.

Alice Eagly

Alice Eagly

In addition, she noted that men tend to help women more than other men.

Men behaved more generously when the cost was minimal in a modified dictator game, according to James Andreoni at the University of California, San Diego and Lise Vesterlund at the University of Pittsburgh.

James Andreoni

James Andreoni

In contrast, they noticed that women demonstrated greater generosity when the cost was high.

Lise Vesterlund

Lise Vesterlund

Andreoni and Vesterlund suggest that men are more responsive to price changes when mens “demand curves for altruism” cross those of women.
As a result, in this lab simulation, men behaved either extremely generously or selfishly, but women shared gains more equally.

Women’s direct presence on corporate boards – rather than their influence as sisters or daughts –  was correlated with increased economic value, according to Dezső  and Ross’s evaluation of the S&P 1,500 firms’ financial performance between 1992 and 2006.
Boards that included women generated an average of 1 percent more economic value – more than $40 million each – when the firm’s strategy is focused on innovation.

-*What corporate impact have you seen of male executives with daughters and sisters?

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Genes and Neurotransmitters Influence Investment Risk-Taking: Implications for Taking Career Risks?

Camelia Kuhnen

Camelia Kuhnen

Brian Knutson

Brian Knutson

Camelia Kuhnen, then of Stanford with her Stanford colleague Brian Knutson and Vanderbilt’s Gregory Samanez-Larkin posit a small but meaningful genetic basis to risk-averse financial investing, providing a biological basis for findings that women hedge fund managers outperformed male counterparts.

Volunteers with two short serotonin transporter genes (5-HTTLPR) reported that they tend to worry, and this pattern was associated with chosing less risky investment choices.

Gregory Samanez-Larkin

Gregory Samanez-Larkin

“Short allele carriers” also showed higher levels of the personality trait “neuroticism,” but no significant difference in cognitive skills, education, or financial status.
Kuhnen estimates that less than 30 percent of variance in risk-taking is attributable to short 5-HTTLPR, and the remaining difference is derived from experience, culture, education, and social environment.

Kuhnen and Knutson reported the neural basis of financial risk taking using event-related fMRI.
They observed that the nucleus accumbens was activated before volunteers made risky choices and made risk-seeking mistakes.
In contrast, they found that the anterior insula was activated before risk-free choices and risk-aversion mistakes.

They proposed that different neural circuits are associated with differing emotions as volunteers anticipate gain or loss associated with financial choices.
This emotional activation “signature” can lead to specific investment choices, favoring or avoiding risk, and may lead to investing mistakes.

In unpublished research, Kuhnen found that short-allele carriers showed increased anxiety before making a decision in a trial-and-error risk discovery task, but reacted no differently than long-allele carriers when they observed a negative outcome.

She noted that volunteers differ in how they anticipate and react to a potential decision before they make it rather that in their reactions to actual outcomes of investment decisions.

Joan Chiao

Joan Chiao

Kuhnen, now at Northwestern collaborated with Northwestern colleague Joan Chiao to investigate the impact of both the 5-HTTLPR gene and the DRD4, gene, which regulates dopamine transmission.
These genes and their related neurotransmitters have been linked to emotional behavior, anxiety and addiction.

Their research replicated Kuhnen’s earlier finding that individuals with two short 5-HTTLPR alleles take 28% less risk than people with other combinations, and they demonstrated that the double DRD4 7 allele carriers took 25% more risk than people with other combinations.
They conclude that serotonin is associated with risk-averse investment choices, whereas dopamine is associated with riskier choices.

Kuhnen and Chiao argue that risky investment behavior shares commonalities with other risky behaviors like drug use, gambling, unsafe sex, dangerous physical and social pursuits, and more.

-*How do you determine the right amount of risk to undertake in career development and financial investing?

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