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Certain differences between the sexes are considered innate. Men are inherently larger. They have stronger muscles. The male sex hormone testosterone, found in both sexes, but more abundant in men, makes them more aggressive.

Differences between the sexes are not only physical

And it's also a truism that there are certain characteristics associated with women. Women are inherently smaller. They have smaller muscles. Their bodies also make testosterone, but far more estrogen. And some recent research coming from Sweden suggests that women may be, in some respects, more intelligent.

Swedish psychologists Jenny Rehnman and Agneta Herlitz conducted recent research to answer the question of whether gender influences the ability to remember everyday events. Their studies found distinct differences between men and women in memory.

Men, for example, on the whole possess superior visuospatial processing. This is the kind of memory that is involved in answering such questions as "Where did I put the car keys?" and "Is it on the top shelf or on the bottom shelf?" Men also scored higher in the kind of memory that is needed to find one's way out of the woods or to locate a golf ball.

Women, however, performed much better in episodic memory tasks, the kinds of memories that are needed for maintaining relationships. They also were superior in remembering pictures, stories, and words, and much better at remembering faces--especially of other women.

Rehnman and Herlitz tested women's facial recognition by showing them black and white photos of hairless, androgynous faces they described as "female faces," "male faces," or just "faces." When the researchers described the test photographs as "female faces," women spent more time inspecting the images. The Swedish psychologists concluded that women remember faces of persons introduced as women than they remember faces of persons introduced as men.

The researchers also found that women are better at recognizing familiar odors, and that women's superiority in memory increases as more words are used to describe a memory. On the other hand, women have more difficulty recalling memories presented entirely in pictorial or abstract form. The higher the level of educational attainment women achieved, the better their verbal memories.

Women have superior ability to men in detecting, and remembering, lies

An area of previous psychological research these studies confirmed is research showing that women have superior ability to men in detecting, and remembering, lies. This effect is even more noticeable when the lie involves some statement regarding sex, sexual identity, or gender. Lies tend to be remembered as jumbles by both sexes, as if the brain were trying to sort out the truth. Women, however, tend to remember all of the parts of a lie, while men tend to sort out the truth and forget the rest of the statement.

Scientists have also found that men and women understand language itself through different parts of the brain. Men tend to analyze language through a part of the brain that applies rules to words, and women tend to analyze language through a part of the brain that recognizes relationships between words. If a child, for instance, has only heard the sentence "I held the bunny rabbit" a single time, a little girl will tend to repeat "I held the bunny rabbit" but later say "I holded the kitty," while a little boy will tend to say "I holded the bunny rabbit" until he also hears the example "I held the kitty."

Men apply rules to recreate memories, and women remember relationships as memories. Men's memories discard factual details, and women's memories retain them--but in relational terms. While men and women may be truly equal, their brains and thinking styles are truly different.

  • Association for Psychological Science. "Sex Differences In Memory: Women Better Than Men At Remembering Everyday Events." ScienceDaily 21 February 2008. 1 September 2010