Do you think women being more emotional means that they are less rational when it comes to taking moral decisions? You are probably wrong.
According to an international team of researchers, although women have a stronger emotional aversion to causing harm than men, both genders engage in similar levels of rational thinking about the outcomes of harmful action.
"Women are more likely to have a gut-level negative reaction to causing harm to an individual while men experience less emotional responses to doing harm," said lead research author Rebecca Friesdorf from Canada's Wilfrid Laurier University.
The findings are in line with previous research showing that women are more empathetic to the feelings of other people than men, whereas gender differences in cognitive abilities tend to be small or nonexistent.
In a large-scale reanalysis of data from 6,100 participants, Friesdorf, along with Paul Conway from University of Cologne and Bertram Gawronski from University of Texas at Austin examined gender differences in judgments about moral dilemmas.
Participants were asked 20 questions that posed various moral dilemmas, including decisions about murder, torture, lying, abortion and animal research.
The findings suggest that men and women engage in similar levels of rational thinking about the outcomes of harmful action.
"We found no evidence for gender differences in the rational evaluation of the outcomes of harmful actions," said the study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.