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What are Some Non-Physical Differences Between Men and Women?

By J. Beam
Updated: May 17, 2024

Men and women have very specific physical attributes that determine their gender. Even besides the obvious physical attributes that make them different, traits such as body size and strength typically contrast between genders. However, there are also non-physical differences that have been widely studied and heavily debated. Emotional and psychological differences, such as nurturing, competitiveness, academic abilities, and communication skills, are all non-physical attributes that are widely accepted as differences between men and women.

Many people believe that the non-physical differences between men and women are a result of nurturing, not nature. Some experts believe that individuals are taught to display typical gender characteristics by the example of society. Still others believe that they display different emotional and psychological characteristics as a result of their physical differences.

As John Gray, Ph.D. points out in his best-selling book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, communication strategies and nurturing abilities and requirements differ between men and women. Men are simple and women are more complicated, emotionally speaking. Therefore, people must understand these differences in order to communicate effectively with each other in a relationship. Whether you personally approach the non-physical differences with the nurture philosophy or with the belief that they are the result of nature, it seems apparent that men and women have many different emotional and psychological characteristics. While not all women are nurturing and affectionate and not all men are emotionally unattached or unable to communicate effectively, it seems that certain characteristics appear more frequently in one gender or the other.

The non-physical differences vary in degree from person to person. It may be safer to define such characteristics as a personality difference between people, rather than between the sexes. However, society generally accepts that men are more competitive than women, women are more nurturing than men, and they communicate very differently. Whether or not you believe in these differences is not as relevant as whether you can move past the debate of their existence and share your world peacefully with the opposite sex.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By heart297 — On Aug 25, 2010

love0876- I think that many men are becoming more nurturing and many women are becoming more authoritative in response to the change in gender roles.

Because many men are now staying home with children while their wives work, this may cause them to adopt traditionally female qualities including kindness and affection. Many women who pursue careers are becoming more concerned with money and career achievement, traits that were once attributed with males.

By love0876 — On Aug 25, 2010

bookworm- I agree with you that most women want to feel protected and safe so that they can nurture their children. However, times are very much changing.

Many women are now working full-time jobs while their husbands stay at home and care for the children. Do you think that this phenomenon is changing the non-physical differences between men and women?

By bookworm — On Oct 29, 2008

I believe that there are some hard wired differences in men and women, that are equally important.

Neither one is better or worse, simply different. For instance, men think macro while women think micro.

Men tend to be task oriented, while women are more feeling oriented. Men need to be needed, while women need to be loved. Men are protectors, and women, especially when they have children need to be protected and safe, so they can nurture their children.

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