Venus or Mars? Type and Gender

Thinking types and Feeling types are different. Obvious right? You probably would have had the same reaction if I’d said “males and females are different.”
No duh!

It was popular a few years back to write self-help books about the different ways females and males operate. How they relate, communicate and love differently.

Venus or Mars?  Pluto or Mickey? (oops, got sidetracked there…)

Comments representative of that literature include, “Regarding relationships, males tend to communicate with friends on an as-needed basis, and it might be weeks or months between contacts.” In that same literature you might read, “Females tend to stay in close contact with friends and communicate in an ongoing way – to maintain the relationship.”

Now pay attention – I’m getting ready to magically transform a scarf into a dove.

These behaviors are - according to a colleague’s study - more about type than they are about gender

Larry Demarest, a friend and associate who passed away a few years ago, did a study on how type and gender impact relationship behavior. He found the “as needed” behavior seems to be more related to being an Introvert with Thinking (IT) than it is to being male.  The “ongoing way” behavior seems to be more related to being an Extravert with Feeling (EF) than it is to being female.  Data do show more male Thinking types and more female Feeling types, so these behaviors might seem to be related to gender.

And gender does have an impact. EF females are slightly more likely than EF males, for example, to report the “ongoing way” behavior. But the EI and TF difference explained more of the differences in this behavior than did gender.  Of course there are some behaviors that are more about gender than type.

By the way, I acknowledge there are plenty of folks who identify in ways other than (simply) as male or female. But the study I’m talking about looked at those two categories!

What’s interesting to contemplate is how some Thinking behaviors have been characterized as “male” and some Feeling behaviors have been characterized as “female.”  And since we have evolved social agreements that ensure males and females are supposed to behave certain ways, those relationship behaviors become proscribed.  In spite of that socialization, some females (those ITs) “insist” on connecting with friends on an “as needed” basis.  ; )

This is why some females read the “Mars” descriptions and say “that’s more me” and some males read the “Venus” descriptions and say “that’s more me.”

Vive la différence!


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  1. Kathleen High

    #1 by Kathleen High - January 31, 2011 at 6:25 PM

    Thank you for this. While this is not new to me, I believe many people need to understand this.

    I am a female ENTJ who finds it especially annoying to hear stereotypes of females. So often, I just don't relate to them because they tend to reflect behaviors of individuals who prefer Feeling. Because my Thinking and Judging preferences are rather strong, there are many times when I find I relate to men more than women in some respects.
  2. Charles

    #2 by Charles - February 4, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    Kathleen - thanks for the comment. Even if we intellectually "know" this - and many people do - we still run into conflict when the gender assumptions into which we've been unconsciously socialized for years bump up against someone's behavior that doesn't fit how we believe they "should" behave. Be yourself and the world will eventually learn! I repeat - vive la difference...
  3. Sabrina

    #3 by Sabrina - March 18, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    I have often thought the same thing! Martians (Vulcans) are thinkers and Venusians (Empaths) are feelers. Like Kathleen I am an E/I-NTJ and prefer to make decisions based on thinking through issues objectively first. I am also more likely to wait until negative emotions pass before doing anything drastic. I seldom trust impulsive decisions. This is often a source of frustration for several of my cohorts who interpret my desire to keep a clear mind as a lack of compassion. The irony is that I see being objective and taking a personal agenda out of the equation as being equally compassionate.
    Funny... I guess it's all in the perspective!
  4. Charles

    #4 by Charles - March 22, 2011 at 5:02 PM

    @Sabrina - Thanks for your comments! Yes it's funny how Ts and Fs really look "through" different aspects of compassion - some preferring the "objective" aspects of it and some the "related" aspects of it. Ts and Fs can both be quite compassionate, but it can have a different "flavor." My partner and I live this all the time. And that word "perspective" really says SO much!
  5. Incredible Mouse

    #5 by Incredible Mouse - May 30, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    I can see this from several vantage points of accuracy. Certainly when you take a numerically dense group and make a single division, you'll find there is both some truth to it, and some error. Similarly, stereotypes are stereotypes usually because they contain some measure of truth, though by all means falls flat on reliability. We do, in fact, find a more meaningful sense of truth when we further divide the group in 16 slices. However, as we all know, there's plenty of wiggle room here. Not every member of those groups fit quite so perfectly. When you peer into any one particle, you find they are individual snowflakes. You could arrange those snowflakes into groups, but you're still ignoring some differences, creating stereotypes. The further you step away from something, now able to examine the bigger picture, you're afforded an ability to make general far-sweeping assumptions. When you look closer, and closer still, you'll find ways to deteriorate the homogeneity of the whole and make more accurate predictions. I believe that each successively deeper view contains a concordant increase in the accuracy of a more granular and particular measure. Further, I imagine that, within time, we'll be able to further divide the MBTI pie or typological cake into 32 or more divisions and find an even greater sense of truth.
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