Notes Psychology

Rule 11: Male and Female Brains are Different (Brain Rules)

There are three types of gender differences: genetic, neuroanatomical and behavioural.

A small snippet (SRY), in the middle of the Y chromosome is all that is needed to create a male. If the SRY gene is destroyed in the male embryo, you can get a female, and if you add the SRY gene to a female embryo, you get a male.

The X chromosome does most of the heavy developmental lifting.

The Y sheds its associated genes at a rate of 5 every million years, committing suicide in slow motion. It is now 100 genes. The X chromosome carries about 1500 genes and showing no signs of decay.

Males need every X gene they can get since they only have one chromosome. Females have double the necessary amount. Many of the genes in the X chromosome influence how we think.

Prominent differences exist in the amygdala, controlling not only the creation of emotions but the ability to remember them. Counter to social prejudice, this area is larger in men than in women. Female amygdalas communicate with the left hemisphere while at rest – male amydalas communicate with the right hemisphere.

The regulation of serotonin is synthesized by males at a 50 percent faster rate than females.

Abnormal Behavior

Mental retardation is more common in males than in females – because males have no backup X.

Males are more afflicted by schizophrenia than females. Women are more likely to get depressed than men by a factor of 2 to 1.

Males are more antisocial. Females are more anxious.

Most alcoholics and drug addicts are men. Most anorexics are women.

Many of these disorders are best predicted by gender.

Normal Behavior

The left-right brain dichotomy has been widely misinterpreted (creative vs analytical). Both sides are involved in these processes, but the hemispheres are not equal. The right side of the brain remembers the gist of the experience, the left brain remembers the details.

Under acute stress, men’s amygdalas get fired up in the right hemisphere of the brain (with the left relatively silent). Women have the opposite experience.

One experiment suggests that men remember the gist and not the details of an experience while women remember the details and not the gist of an experience.

Women are better than men at communication.

When it comes to relationships, studies done on children show that women communicate with each other by leaning in and maintaining eye contact, they do a lot of talking. Boys don’t do this. They rarely face each other directly, their gaze casts about the room. They do not use much verbal communication. Doing things physically together is the glue that holds their relationships together.

It isn’t that boys compete and girls cooperate, boys are showing incredible levels of cooperation by engaging in competition, where they have to follow a detailed set of rules.


In elementary school, boys start to use language to negotiate their status in a large group. High status males give orders to the rest of the group. They verbally and physically push other boys around. The “leaders” are only challenged by strong members, so the guys on top learn how to deflect challenges quickly, often with words. The hierarchy is evident with boys, and hard. A low status male is usually miserable. Independent behavior, which is a sign of control at the top, is highly prized.

Different girls exhibit different behavior, according to Tannen. High status and low status females existed, as with boys, but they used different strategies to generate and keep their hierarchies. The girls talked a lot. The more secrets they revealed to each other, the more they identified each other as close. They did not treat each other in a hierarchical way. Bossy girls are socially isolated.

Boys say, “Do this.” Girls say, “Let’s do this.”


The boy who gave orders was a leader, the girl who did so was bossy. By college, these styles were deeply entrenched, and that’s when problems began to show at work and in marriage. Women often want someone to relate to them, while men want directness.

Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and SchoolRule 11: Male and Female Brains are Different (Brain Rules) 1

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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