Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 619–636 | Cite as

Sex Differences in Personality Traits and Gender-Related Occupational Preferences across 53 Nations: Testing Evolutionary and Social-Environmental Theories

  • Richard A. LippaEmail author
Original Paper


Using data from over 200,000 participants from 53 nations, I examined the cross-cultural consistency of sex differences for four traits: extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and male-versus-female-typical occupational preferences. Across nations, men and women differed significantly on all four traits (mean ds = −.15, −.56, −.41, and 1.40, respectively, with negative values indicating women scoring higher). The strongest evidence for sex differences in SDs was for extraversion (women more variable) and for agreeableness (men more variable). United Nations indices of gender equality and economic development were associated with larger sex differences in agreeableness, but not with sex differences in other traits. Gender equality and economic development were negatively associated with mean national levels of neuroticism, suggesting that economic stress was associated with higher neuroticism. Regression analyses explored the power of sex, gender equality, and their interaction to predict men’s and women’s 106 national trait means for each of the four traits. Only sex predicted means for all four traits, and sex predicted trait means much more strongly than did gender equality or the interaction between sex and gender equality. These results suggest that biological factors may contribute to sex differences in personality and that culture plays a negligible to small role in moderating sex differences in personality.


BBC Internet study Big Five traits Culture Gender-related interests Gender roles Personality Sex differences 



I am grateful to BBC TV Science for commissioning this research, and to the BBC Science and Nature website for programming and hosting the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCalifornia State University, FullertonFullertonUSA

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