Whether it’s a male or female colleague, both sexes will likely point a finger in the other direction when it comes to why a project wasn’t finished and deflect the blame. But who is actually more difficult to work with? According to new research, women do cooperate better than men, but it depends on the circumstances.
Do men and women work together differently?
There’s always going to be difficult coworkers that you’re going to deal with on a daily basis. What started as in-person headaches has turned into digital migraines courtesy of blue light and the pandemic.
Making decisions during this time has been a challenge due to communication issues, which means perhaps you’ve lost your tolerance for cooperation. Everything agitates us and dealing with unruly colleagues certainly adds to the everlasting headache that this past year has brought on working professionals.
A study published in the journal Psychological Science looked into whether men and women differ when it comes to cooperation behaviors. Men tend to flirt on extremism, by behaving either selfishly or altruistically in decision making in many different situations, compared to women, whether for their own benefit, others, or the overlying mission.
Researchers had participants run through a trial of “social dilemma games” that were steered to gauge levels of cooperation, according to Forbes. The researchers, led by Christian Thoni of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, included games like Prisoner’s dilemma, a game analyzing cooperation levels through self-decision making.
Cooperation was also measured by looking into how one would act in social situations, like voting, tax compliance, environmental issues, charity, corruption, teamwork, and other scenarios.
“An important question is what predicts cooperation in these and similar situations. One potential predictor is gender,” researchers said.
The study was comprised of 40 samples from more than 20 social dilemma games, which totaled over 8,000 participants over time. In a donation-based example, researchers said men and women have the same in terms of cooperation, but there was a caveat: men were prone to either contributing far little, or much more, during the games. This is where the extremism comes into play.
For example, men were more likely to fall into the category of game “free riders,” or those who maximize their own benefit by minimizing their contribution to the “greater good.” They were also more likely to fall into the category of “unconditional helpers,” or those who elected to help others at their own expense, even when such help wasn’t reciprocated by others.
Women, on the other hand, were more likely to offer partial support, or to “conditionally cooperate,” in the social dilemma experiments they analyzed.
“Our results highlight the importance of taking intrasex variability into consideration when studying sex differences in cooperation and suggest important future research directions,” researchers said.