The story is mostly one of small female advantages

Monday, February 10th, 2020

In Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class, Charles Murray relies on Diane Halpern’s fourth edition of Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (2012) for his list of specific skills and aptitudes that each sex performs better. He starts with sensory perception:

When it comes to the five senses — taste, touch, smell, sound, vision — the story is mostly one of small female advantages.

  • Females tend to be better than males at detecting pure tones.
  • Adult females tend to have more sensitive hearing for high frequencies than males.
  • Females tend to have better auditory perception of binaural beats and otoacoustic emissions.
  • Females tend to detect faint smells better than males.
  • Females tend to identify smells more accurately than males.
  • Males under 40 tend to detect small movements in their visual field better than females.
  • Age-related loss of vision tends to occur about ten years earlier for females than for males.
  • Males are many times more likely to be color-blind than females (the ratio varies by ethnic group).
  • The balance of evidence indicates that females are more accurate than males in recognizing the basic tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter), though some studies find no difference.
  • Females tend to be better than males at perceiving fine surface details by touch. This holds true for blind people as well as sighted ones.

Women are also more sensitive to pain and to disgust.


  1. Ezra says:

    “Males under 40 tend to detect small movements in their visual field better than females.”

    Predator animals tend to have what is called savanna sight. And ability to pick out movement against a background. Humans are predator animals.

  2. Graham says:

    That list seems shockingly consistent with an outcome in which men do more hunting, fighting and navigating and women do more gathering, storage/maintenance, nurturing and decorating.

    Must indeed be minor differences, though.

  3. Paul from Canada says:

    Like I said on the other thread, differences on average are small, aggression and assertiveness at the peak of the bell curve may be 60/40 male/female, only slightly different than chance, but the tails of the curve are a different story.

    If you take two random/average people, one male, one female, the male will be the more aggressive/assertive 60% of the time, but go to a supermax prison, where they keep the absolutely most aggressive/assertive people on the planet, and they are 9 sigma male.

    Little differences magnify.

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