Women are Kinder and Less Selfish, Scientists Suggests

Reward system in female brains geared toward ‘prosocial’ behavior.

Women are Kinder and Less Selfish, Scientists Suggests
Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

Women appear different from men in terms of mental attitude. They have greater tenderness and less selfish behavior. This is a natural stereotype in them that gear towards more prosocial behavior.

Philippe Tobler, associate professor of neuroeconomics said, “It was known that women and men behave differently, but it was not known why, or how this comes about in the brain.”

It is not clear whether the gender differences they see in the brain’s reward system are in any way “innate”, or whether they are the result of social pressures. But, women are more likely to receive a chemical reward for being generous.

Scientists conducted two different studies to examine whether dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the brain’s reward system.

In the first study, scientists involved 56 men and women and allocated them into two groups. Scientists then offered participants a placebo or amisulpride– a drug that blocks the action of dopamine in the brain.

Later on, scientists asked participants deal with a hypothetical situation where they could either claim a wad of cash for themselves or split a chunk of money evenly with another person. When the task was over, scientists repeated the experiment with the alternative pill.

When women had the placebo, 51% of them chose to share the money, whereas only 40% men found sharing. But after taking the amisulpride, women’s figure was less than men.

During the second study, scientists identified 40 men and women who had undergone brain imaging. They asked participants to take decisions on whether to share money, focus on the activity of a value-processing region of the brain that relies on dopamine signaling.

When settling on prosocial decisions, action in brain area was more grounded for ladies than men. It suggests a greater dopamine response.

Scientists noted, “It supports the idea that the dopamine-based reward system is geared towards sharing behavior in women and more selfish behavior in men.”

Gina Rippon, professor of cognitive neuroimaging said, “The data from the first study does not show that women are particularly prosocial. It suggests, under placebo, they were split almost 50:50 for prosocial and less selfish choices.”

“The imaging study pooled comes about because of two distinct gatherings of members, utilizing two unique scanners and two somewhat extraordinary variants of the errand.”

Angela Saini said, “We know that girls and women are socially expected to behave in different ways from boys and men. We encourage girls to be kinder, gentler and more generous because these are seen as female virtues,” she said. “It shouldn’t really come as a surprise that research like this shows that women tend to show a greater reward response to this kind of behavior.”