CogniFit's Science blog: Men And Women Divided On Beauty

Men And Women Divided On Beauty

If you go to a bookshop and you try to find those most popular offers, you’ll likely find several self-improvement books that will make you be a better person after reading them. It seems that everyone wants to improve something about themselves, so these books have found a thirsty public.

But that is not the only category of popular books. Any book comparing men and women, or essentially exposing their real (or myth) differences, has a place guaranteed in that podium of popular books. There is an interest, by both men and women, to better know the other side. It’s in reality spying on the other one, but a subtle kind of spying.

I recall a few years ago reading one of those books, I actually received it as a gift a few times and in different languages. The book was called “Why men don’t listen and women can’t read maps”. Regardless of the accuracy of the title, there is in this category of books a real base in how men and women use their brain and their cognition.

Take beauty for instance. Beauty isn’t an absolute value, it is based on opinions and in how our mind will perceive and evaluate something – is it beautiful, or not? This is an area where the differences between men and women are well exposed.

It has been already studied in the past, that for men, the images or objects they perceive as beautiful, activate certain brain regions responsible for locating objects in absolute terms. It is a logical way of looking at beauty.

Women on the other hand consider beauty differently. While they also activate brain regions associated with the absolute, they also activate other brain regions associated with relative location – up, down, above, behind, over, under.

So just with this example, the title of the book I’ve previously referred makes sense. But let’s dig a bit further. What explains these differences?

Throughout the history, and in most societies, men and women had different roles. The men were more likely to hunt, where women were more likely to collect. Over time this difference may have had an effect on the brain development, giving men a better special orientation, and a better capacity to identify plants and tubers in women.

So are male and female brains different? Yes, in many ways they are. The usage of the cognition is different, and the neuroscience is helping to unveil these differences as time goes by. Maybe it will be possible in the future to really get to know and fully understand each other.