Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
PsychologyOur news, events & seminars

Why Do Psychological Sex Difference Vary in Size Across Cultures? On the Need for Theoretical Pluralism  Seminar

15:00 - 16:00
31 January 2018
University of Southampton, Highfield Campus, Building 44 (Shackleton), Room 3095

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sue McNally on 02380 595150 or email .

Event details

Visiting Speaker Seminar on behalf of CRSI

Although psychological scientists have found men and women are somewhat different, on average, across several domains (e.g., sexual desires, mental abilities, occupational interests, personality traits), the precise size of these sex differences often varies across cultures. Curiously, the largest differences between men and women are often found in cultures with the most gender egalitarian social and political systems (e.g., Scandinavia). How can this be? Several theoretical and empirical explanations for these counter-intuitive findings will be reviewed, with particular reference to new findings from a large international study of human sexual psychology. For instance, new findings from a cross-cultural survey of over 35,000 people across 58 nations suggest the sizes of sex differences in Dark Triad traits (i.e., Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy) were variable across cultures, and were largest across Scandinavian samples. Consistent with life history theory, in nations with higher levels of ecological stress (e.g., higher pathogen load, lower resource availability), sex differences in the Dark Triad were largely attenuated, primarily because women’s life history strategies appeared more accelerated than men’s in response to ecological stress.

Speaker information

Professor David Schmitt, Brunel University London. Professor Schmitt's research interests include evolutionary and cross-cultural approaches to understanding personal relationships, sexual strategies, romantic attachment styles, and gender differences in human mating. He is also interested in the "Big Five" model of personality traits, risk factors for HIV/AIDS, and predictors of both sexual aggression and domestic violence across cultures. He is the Founding Director of the International Sexuality Description Project (Schmitt et al., 2003), a cross-cultural survey study that included samples from 56 nations representing 6 continents, 13 islands, and 28 languages

Privacy Settings