Are Men Really From Mars and Women from Venus? Are Male/Female Gender Differences Often Really Personality Type Differences?

By Jack Speer | January 28, 2015

Mars_Venus_graphic“Men are from Mars and Women from Venus,” by John Gray, illuminated a whole generation of people, when he released his book in 1992, a generation that had been taught that behavior differences between men and women were largely a matter of upbringing. Under the then prevailing interpretation of science and education, boys liked to play war games because their parents gave them cap pistols and girls were girlie because their parents gave them Barbie dolls.

Gray’s book shouted what people had plainly experienced all along—that gender differences are fundamental to the way men and women act and react, and is part of their very different, basic wiring.

Yet Gray’s explanations of the differences of “Mar’s behavior” for men and “Venus behavior” for women are much accurately explained through Jungian/Myers-Briggs personality type (JMBT) rather than Gray’s Mars/Venus explanations, which stereotype both men and women ways that might today be considered outrageous and sexist.

A great deal more is explained about male/female behavior base on Jungian/Myers-Briggs temperament, which you can determine by identifying the middle two letters of your type code. The four temperaments are:

Sensing/Judging (SJ)

Belonging, Maintaining (49.6% of people) – Loyalist, Values Loyalty (ESTJ. ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ)

iNtuition/Thinking – (NT)

Intelligence, Power (9.6% of people) – Rationalist, Values Competency (ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, INTP)

Sensing/Perceiving – (SP)

Doing, Performing (27% of people) – Artisan, Values Experiencing, Doing (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP)

iNtuitive/Feeling – (NF)

Becoming, Relating (16.5% of people) – Facilitator, Values Harmony (ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP)

The following are ways in which Jungian/Myers-Briggs theory (JMBT) differs dramatically from the Mars/Venus/Gray view of the world.

Emotions

Mars/Venus Explanation– Don’t tell this to a new generation of women engineers, physicians, and attorneys, but according to Gray it is men who love to have their abilities recognized and appreciated. Gray says that women, on the other hand, love to have their feelings recognized and appreciated, and hate to have them scorned or ignored. According to the Mars/Venus view, men don’t rate feelings highly because feelings are unstable. In the Mars/Venus world, women don’t rate abilities highly as in their view they can result in coldly dispassionate, aggressively competitive behavior.

Jungian Myers/Briggs View: According to the JMBT view, iNtuitive Thinkers (NT’s) are those who value thinking and technical skills over the harmony and functioning relationships of people and groups. They do so because they believe in every case there is a right way and a wrong way. NT’s believe that being wrong is disastrous. NF’s believe that if people are not in harmony, there will be debilitating conflict which will result in disaster. SJ’s can believe that loyalty is more important than right course/wrong course, and that we are best served by following our leaders. SP’s often dismiss the right way/wrong way dilemma by finding something more interesting and engaging to do.

Independence

Mars/Venus Explanation: Men like to work on their own, and exercise their abilities by solving problems quickly and singlehandedly; women like to co-operate, and exercise their feelings through interactive communication with one another.

Jungian Myers/Briggs View: Again, this Mars/Venus approach is not gender consistent. Introversion, especially in ISTJ’s, is characterized by the tendency to want to complete projects working alone. Extroverts gain energy from working in groups. NT’s want outcomes and work alone or in groups, depending on the desired outcome. NF’s love the community of working in groups. SP’s, as doers and performers, love both group and individual challenges, often based on whether they are Extroverts and Introverts. A preference to work along or as a group, again, is not gender based.

Seeking Assistance

Mars/Venus Explanation Men value solutions, and view unsolicited assistance as undermining their effort to solve problems alone; women value assistance, and view unsolicited solutions as undermining their effort to proceed interactively. Men desire that their solutions will be appreciated; women desire that their assistance will be appreciated.

Jungian Myers/Briggs View: Again, the Mars/Venus explanation is that men want to solve issue and hate unsolicited help while it is women want their help to be appreciated is categorically denied by both men and women. Actually both men and women, according to JMB theory can be quite sensitive when help is offered, depending on their personality type. NF’s love to help, but often want understanding rather than a formula for a solution. NT’s, either men or women, can be quite resistant to help because they feel their competency is challenged. SJ’s are impressed with information that comes from a tried and true way of solving their issue, and are open to those can give them those sources. SP’s need to solve their issues experientially, seeking the best solution of the moment.

Communication

Mars/Venus Explanation Gray says that men go to their caves when tired or troubled and women talk things out. Men like to demonstrate their abilities by being allowed to solve problems without interference while women like to demonstrate their feelings by being allowed to relate problems without interference. When men do communicate, they like to get to the point, and generally only want to listen if they feel the conversation has a point; women enjoy talking for its own sake, and are happy to listen unconditionally.

Jungian Myers/Briggs View: While this stenotype of men as the strong, silent type standing by the emotionally convulsed female is a theme in old western frontiersman movies, this is again more of a portrayal of personality type rather than gender. Strong Introverts need to dig deep into their inner selves for answers, while Extroverts want to process what’s happening to them, drawing energy and creativity from those close around them. Feeling types love to reach out and draw on the sensitivity of others. Thinkers often abhor the sentimentality of others for the rough spots. SP’s often find a group of others to relate to, and never consider isolation, whether they are male or female.

In Summary

There is no doubt that many of the stereotypes of male and female behavior have a great deal of truth in them. Men and women are profoundly different from each other, and that mystery will never be totally explained by the wisest among us. Nonetheless, I find much of the Mars/Venus explanation of gender differences to be quite annoying as an explanation or rationale of my relationships with the opposite or same sex. On the other hand, the Jungian/Myers-Briggs theory accurately explains behavior on the basis of individuals, rather than gender. I find that the Mars/Venus explanations are demeaning both to men and to women.

Citations:

  • Summaries of Men are from Mars, Women from Venus are drawn from Wiki Summaries: http://www.wikisummaries.org/Men_Are_From_Mars,_Women_Are_From_Venus, with the acknowledgement and gratitude of the author.
  • Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray, PhD. Is widely available at amazon.com and many other sources
  • Temperament Explanations are based in part on the Keirsey Sorter.
  • Jungian/Myers-Briggs personality type (JMBT) is a World Type Alliance terminology for the personality type theory developed by Carl Jung and developed by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs. It explains the theory, and its acronym, JMBT, has no association whatsoever with MBTI (RT) a registered trademark of CPP, Inc.