The variability hypothesis, a.k.a the greater male variability hypothesis, states that males exhibit greater variability in many traits than females. This includes more variability in sexual preferences, social attitudes, behaviours, intelligence, strength, other physical traits, genetic variation (though this is contested, see mutation), etc. The only exception being fear and emotionality, in which women show greater variability.
Higher male variability may only concern dimensions in which men outcompete women as everything tends to get more varied and spread out the more potential there is. Men are simply more potent than women in many regards (taller, stronger, smarter, more sexually motivated, etc.), so overall men tend to have more variability. Conversely, women sometimes have greater variability in dimensions they have a higher mean (e.g. fear and emotionality). Metthew effects may also play a role as men are more expected to succeed and more responsible for their lives, i.e. men may experience more of a downward spiral when they loose and more of an upward spiral when they succeed.
Overview[edit | edit source]
The idea of men being more intra-sexually heterogenous than women in physical traits dates back to at least Charles Darwin, who stated his belief in such in The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.
Sexologist Havelock Ellis famously expanded on this to include mental traits being more variable among men than women in Man and Women: A study of human sexual characters where he wrote:
By the 1890’s several studies had been conducted to demonstrate that variability was indeed more characteristic of males...The biological evidence overwhelmingly favored males as the more variable sex.
Variability in sexual desire[edit | edit source]
While women's desires are also very varied (e.g. dogpill), it seems men's desires are more varied in that they more readily copulate with anything that moves and even things that do not move like morbidly obese women. This becomes evident in that women diagnosed with various mental illnesses have twice as much fertility as males with comparable issues. This greater paraphilic interest is largely explained by men's higher sex drive, meaning individuals of either sex with a higher sex drive also develop more diverse interests. The fact that men have higher variability in their sexual success due to higher parental investment on part of women may also imply higher variance in their sexual desires as it means men more often overlook flaws such that even less desirable women have sexual success.
Women appear to engage in higher levels of mate choice copying than men, which either stems from greater conformity (explaining also their higher proneness to hysteria) or perhaps as a means of choosing high status men as explained by bodyguard hypothesis and female hypergamy. Either way, it implies more uniform desire in women, as it means they more likely choose the same male.
One study found that "when women rated men, they agreed in their perception more often than when men rated women", rating various desirable aspects including physical attractiveness. A study by Wood et al. (2009) is often cited by bluepillers as counter evidence as it found a consensus correlation .62 (.23) for males, but .44 (.19) for females, but that may partly be a result of women rating even attractive men more harshly, so their ratings are more spread out, and more harsher ratings also imply women more often agree rating men as very unattractive (see Figure on the right). Women also have more racial homophily, meaning they prefer their own race more, which also means their ratings will agree less provided a racially diverse sample as in this study. The study also mentions that "perhaps photographs of men varied less in their attractiveness than the photographs of women".
However, a line of research by Roy Baumeister suggests women's sexual desire is overall more malleable. Men's promiscuity appears to be strongly influenced by the mating context, with them being much less choosy than women in short-term contexts, but also very choosy when it comes to marriage and when they need to invest in their partner. The main aspect in which male desire is a lot less varied is that men prefer young and fertile women/girls. As women are more agreeable, more socially conform, physically weaker than almost all men, they may ultimately care less about the characteristics of their partners (as evidenced by many women carelessly mating with highly immoral partners), and thus seemingly well adapted for arranged marriage.
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Hyde JS. "Gender Similarities and Differences." The Annual Review of Psychology. 2014. 65:3.1–3.26 [Abstract] [FullText].
- Shields SA. 1982. The variability hypothesis: The history of a biological model of sex differences in intelligence. Signs. 7 (4): 769–797. [Abstract]
- Machin S, Pekkarinen T. 2008. Global Sex Differences in Test Score Variability. Science. Vol. 322, issue 5906. PMID 19039123. Pp. 1331–2 [Abstract]
- Hedges LV, Nowell A. 1995. Sex Differences in Mental Test Scores, Variability, and Numbers of High-Scoring Individuals. Science. Volume 269, issue 5220. PMID 7604277. Pp. 41–45 [Abstract]
- Halpern, Diane F. et all. 2007. The Science of Sex Differences in Science and Mathematics. Psychological Science in the Public Interest. Volume: 8 issue: 1, page(s): 1-51, Issue published: August 1, 2007. [Abstract]
- Lindberg SM,Hyde JS, Petersen JL, Linn MC. 2010. New trends in gender and mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 136(6), Nov 2010, 1123-1135. [Abstract]
- Feingold A. 1994. Gender differences in variability in intellectual abilities: A cross-cultural perspective. Sex Roles. Vol. 30, issue 1–2. Pp. 81–92 [Abstract]
- Morbidly obese men have a d = -.3 lower partner count than average men, an effect absent for women. See Table 1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1474704915604563
- Wood D, Brumbaugh CC. 2009. Using revealed mate preferences to evaluate market force and differential preference explanations for mate selection. Journal of personality and social psychology, 96(6), 1226. [Abstract]