The only question is how long it will take

Sunday, February 9th, 2020

In Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class, Charles Murray discusses the McCrae study, which looks at differences in personality traits between men and women in 50 different countries, rich and poor, from around the world:

The great cultural and economic disparities across these countries make it difficult to see how all of them could produce uniform socialization of girls to be more warm, altruistic, sympathetic, sociable, and artistically sensitive than men.

I use gender egality in preference to gender equality to signify not just progress toward diminishing sex differences but also institutional, legal, and social changes intended to put men and women on an equal footing.

The question at hand is whether sex differences in personality are smaller in countries that have made the most progress.

The theories of socialization and of social roles that I summarized in chapter 1 necessarily expect that the answer is yes. If sex differences in personality are artificial, diminishing the causes of artificial differences must eventually lead to smaller differences.

The only question is how long it will take.

This brings us to a counterintuitive finding that seems to cut across a variety of sex differences: Many sex differences in cognitive repertoires are wider rather than smaller in countries with greater gender egality. Personality traits offers the first example.


On average, women preferred altruism, trust, and positive reciprocity more than men and were more averse to negative reciprocity than men. In the two nonsocial preferences, men preferred risk-taking and waiting for a larger reward more than women.


Five different studies, based on different measures of personality and national gender egality, analyzing data from dozens of countries, all found the same pattern: overall consistency in male-female differences in personality, but larger differences in the most advanced countries


Perhaps we’re looking at a general phenomenon that goes far beyond personality traits. For example, the Schmitt study points out, sexual dimorphism in height increases with a country’s wealth. So too with sexual dimorphism in blood pressure. So too with competitiveness in sports — as opportunities and incentives increase for women to compete in sports, sex differences in performance increase as well. So too with differences between advantaged and disadvantaged groups in health and education when new opportunities are made available to all. Two years after the Schmitt study made these points, another study led by Richard Lippa found that sexual dimorphism in visuospatial abilities also increased with gender equality.

Another surprise from the Schmitt study was its finding that men do most of the changing, in both the physiological and personality traits. When sexual dimorphism in height increases, for example, it is primarily due to greater height among males. In the case of personality, the Schmitt study found that the wider sex gap in emotional stability in advanced countries is not the result of women becoming less emotionally stable, but of men self-reporting higher levels of emotional stability, and also lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness, than men in less advanced countries.


  1. Kirk says:

    Here is the thing with all this: The gender-idiots mistake a lot of what they’re looking at with regards to gender-specific behaviors as being somehow due to inherent nature and virtue. Women are more nurturing, men more aggressive, and all of that.

    What they’re missing is not that these things are necessarily features of male/female differences (although, there is good evidence that many characteristics are sexually dimorphic), but that it’s the roles that the demand the behaviors. If you’re the primary caregiver for the children, then you’re going to have to develop the nurturing characteristics–Look at the male seahorse for an example.

    Right now, there are a lot of what appear to be essentially hard-coded behavioral differences between the sexes, but that’s going to change as time goes on and we shift from what we were to what we will be–And, I would suggest that as we become more egalitarian in terms of sex/gender roles, then you’re going to see a lot of typical male/female behaviors that we can identify today as dimorphic becoming essentially unisex.

    It’s going to have to even out, and I can see a lot of change coming down the pike as lifespan goes up, and technology takes away the burden of carrying children. Posit greater lifespan and a mostly artificial womb situation, and you’re going to see most human behavior converge, strictly along functional lines. You’re also going to see some serious weirdness develop in things like sexual selection and all the rest–What the hell happens when you can go down to the local creche, contract for a womb, select your own set of gametes, and “build a bear” your kids?

    One side effect of all this is that I think a lot of women are going to be forced to grow the hell up, because under such a set of conditions, what the hell will they have to bring to the table? Right now, because they’ve got a working womb, their immature behavior will be tolerated. Once they can be replaced by technological means? LOL… The poor dears are going to have to find jobs. Between the sexbots and artificial wombs, there are going to be a lot of women out there who will have to have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with reality, and they’re going to find out how f**ked-up the male world really is when they have to compete inside it on truly level terms.

    Yeah, baby… Show that ass at work. Most of your male co-workers have prettier and more compliant sex toys at home, who won’t take their house, kids, and half their possessions and savings with them when they leave. It’s gonna be ugly, for everyone who relies on their looks to get by, and especially the pretty-pretty little girls who never want to grow up.

    The way I see things, right now the human race is in early adolescence. By the time we reach maturity, a lot of this crap is going to be left by the wayside, and one of the things I see going bye-bye is much of sexual dimorphism in behavior and form.

  2. David Foster says:

    “On average, women preferred altruism, trust, and positive reciprocity more than men and were more averse to negative reciprocity than men.”

    I wonder what “preferred altruism” actually means and how it was measured. There’s a big difference between *saying* that one would be altruistic in some situation, and actually *being” altruistic when it actually costs something.

    The first would seem more influenced by social expectations than the second.

  3. Wilbur Hassenfus says:

    Kirk, so you’re saying that in more affluent, egalitarian societies, sex-linked differences will diminish? Interesting. Somebody should study that.

  4. Paul from Canada says:


    To a certain extent this has already happened. In more affluent societies where survival is more assured, women have greater and more egalitarian roles already.

    For example, women in the military, and particularly, women in combat roles is something you find only in affluent western countries, (or places where there is an ongoing existential threat where everyone has to fight).

  5. Kirk says:

    Thing is, though… It’s premature as hell. We don’t have the enablers for the idea in place, like dramatically extended lifespans or artificial wombs. I think those are coming, but they’re a couple of generations off, barring a Singularity-style event in our lifetimes.

    One thing I’ve come to conclude from reading and observation: Social adaptation lags behind social innovations and change by decades, even generations. I don’t think we’ve fully digested the implications of the automobile and telephone, let alone the host of other things that came in with the 20th Century.

    One of the biggest changes of the 19th came in with Semmelweis, a man whose image ought to be up in honor over every maternity ward bed. His work did more to change society, for good or ill, than just about anyone else. Once we got women over that mortality hump due to the risks of childbirth, things were bound to change. It’s unfortunate that they changed the way they did, but that’s what happens when you don’t recognize the reality of things, and just accept the conditions of your milieu without thought.

    Trying to look forward and see the implications is what I’m doing here, and what I see is at least one path down which society sanely (yeah, I know… Right.) adapts to the whole idea of true egalitarian equality between the sexes. A lot of the nuttiness we’re going through right now has to do with the failure to adapt, and the fact that a lot of this sheer buffoonery is enabled by the new conditions, post-Semmelweis. The feminists wouldn’t have the space to do their thing, if there weren’t enough willing women out there who survived multiple childbirths to take up their slack. Most of those nutcases would have been forced, one way or another, to do their part in propagating the race, which would probably have led to a bunch of sadly damaged kids.

    I think we’re going to find that once the kinks are worked out with artificial wombs, we’re going to get much better results. No effects from stress, no poor nutrition, none of the side-effects you get with a natural gestation. If some theories are correct, about hormone imbalances in the womb leading to aberrant sexual behaviors like homosexuality, then someone is going to have to make a decision if that’s going to be allowed.

    Whole thing could get very, very interesting–Can you imagine the rage that the anti-vaccination crowd will have, if someone says “Hey, natural birth is immoral, fattening, and not allowed ‘cos of the risk for the children…”. Natural babies might come to be looked at as inferior, and neonatal monitoring might become a requirement before such births were allowed, and if you let your “womb conditions” lapse, you might have your child taken from you while it was still in the womb, and then taken to finish gestating in an artificial one…

    The whole thing will no doubt serve to do even more damage to the family structure, although I doubt we’ll ever get to the point where we’re looking at Brave New World predictions coming true. Hopefully.

    Whatever is coming, it’s going to be interesting, if the trends and progressions keep moving the way they have been.

  6. Dave says:

    “The only question is how long it will take.”

    Pure distilled Whiggery right there, the intellectual conceit that history is an irreversible march of progress toward justice, tolerance, and equality.

  7. Kirk says:

    Who said anything about justice, tolerance, and equality?

    The whole thing is going to fraught with unintended consequence, just as the rest of human history has. The trick is to figure out where things are going, in a general way.

    No doubt some would look at the current times as a halcyon ideal, from the perspective of 1880 or so. Others would term them nightmare. Doesn’t really matter, one way or another–The chaos reigns all the same. Dance, fool, dance…

  8. Candide III says:

    If you’re the primary caregiver for the children, then you’re going to have to develop the nurturing characteristics–Look at the male seahorse for an example.

    Nuts. Individuals cannot “develop nurturing characteristics” if they don’t have it in them. Humans can try to simulate behaviors by an act of will and develop corresponding habits, cf. “naturals” vs those who learned PUA, but the simulated behavior is very seldom as good as the real thing. Male seahorses don’t just suddenly decide to switch gender roles and start brooding their eggs: they have a pouch for it, and the females have a pseudo-penis to put the eggs there! Yes, if environment becomes more advantageous for different gender roles, eventually evolution will lead to a redistribution of inborn characteristics, but that takes a lot of time and selection pressure.

  9. Harry Jones says:

    Whatever’s worth doing is worth trying to fake. It doesn’t have to be as good as the real thing. It just has to be good enough.

    It may be somebody else’s job, but somebody’s got to do it. If you resent having to do something that shouldn’t even be your responsibility, you’re missing the point. You are free to do it your way, and who will have the right to complain if they don’t like how you do it? If they try to make you stop doing it your way, then you can just walk away and not do it at all, with a clear conscience. Those who shirked their duties have no moral standing to hold you accountable.

    With great responsibility comes great power. Embrace the power. Fill the vacuum with you.

  10. Paul from Canada says:

    Again we come back to the average vs. individual.

    Even if gender roles are to a certain extent hardwired, there are always going to be outliers and exceptions, even forced exceptions.

    Imagine a man with small children who has just become a widower, and because of his particular circumstances (no close family nearby to help), who is forced to become the primary caregiver for these young kids. Can he do the job? Probably at least adequately, and possibly quite well.

    Likewise a women of an Albanian clan, who runs out of men for their ongoing blood feud. She becomes a “Sworn Virgin” to continue the feud. She might do quite well in her new role. She might even be VERY effective because to compensate for being female, she acts with exaggerated aggression to compensate, and may in consequence, be MORE ruthless than her opponents, and thus win.

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