The female mind’s secrets revealed


07 February 2012 15:03 | By Hugh Wilson, contributor, MSN Him

Secrets of the female mind revealed

Struggling to understand her reasoning and behaviour? Let science explain the intricacies of the female mind.

Go to a busy pub in any town or city in Britain tonight and there’s every chance you’ll overhear a bunch of blokes talking about the mysteries of the female mind.

“I just don’t understand her,” one might say. “She’s so emotional,” another might pipe up. “She’s a slave to her hormones,” a third might interject.

These are all cliches, of course, but within each lies a nugget of truth. For sound biological or evolutionary reasons, men and women do think differently. Here are some of the scientifically verified secrets of a woman’s mind, because forewarned is forearmed.

Are women more jealous?

It’s a widely held view that women are more jealous than men. They are more possessive (the theory goes) and more likely to fly off the handle at any sign of interest from competing females.

Research has found that it’s not quite that simple. In fact, men and women both get jealous, but over subtly different things. A study published last year in the journal Personality and Individual Differences discovered that when men suspect infidelity, they’ll ask more questions about sex. When women suspect it, they’ll ask more questions about emotions.

That chimes with earlier research and evolutionary theory. We men are more jealous about physical infidelity because it calls into question our paternity (this is all deep down in our subconscious), and our biological raison d’etre is to pass on our genes.

A woman doesn’t have that worry, of course. She knows the child is hers. Instead, she is more concerned with emotional infidelity, because it threatens the protective family unit she needs to bring that child up securely.

That might explain why your partner can get jealous over what you consider to be a supportive, friendly, but sexually innocent relationship with a female friend.

Are women more emotional?

This is another old chestnut. Women are more emotional. They shed tears at every opportunity. They always know how to turn a minor drama into a major crisis.

According to the latest research, there’s a nugget of truth in that. Women are not more emotional, but they are more prone to ’emotional stress’. That might explain why she gets mad at you for your more laid-back attitude to being late, or getting lost, or financial difficulties.

In the study, levels of a stress hormone that barely registered in male rats excited the brains of female rats. And though the subjects were rodents, researchers say the results may well explain the difference in human male and female attitudes to stress.

“This may help to explain why women are twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders,” said study leader Dr Rita Valentino, of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Men’s brains tend to cope better with stress hormones, making them less likely to turn that drama into a crisis.

But it’s just as true to say that men are too unemotional, rather than women are too emotional. One neuro-imaging study found that men are simply less equipped to read emotion than women, which might explain why we consider women over emotional.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.