Sunday, March 03, 2013

Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps: How We're Different and What to Do About It by Allan and Barbara Pease

Sorry, still reviewing a backlog of books from February...

Since February's theme is "relationships" I had to read at least one book categorized as such. I can't say I've read many books in the "family & relationships" self-help genre; this may be the first (15 years ago my neighbors dumped their copy of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus on me when they moved to New York, but I never read it).

I didn't like the opening chapters. The authors cover a lot of material without much background, like an executive summary. I'm more accustomed to books that describe the research or experiments leading to conclusions rather than a Cliffs Notes of findings. Those chapters also give the impression that women's brains are great and men are stupid (I don't think the authors intended for readers to think so... or maybe Mrs. Pease wrote those chapters!). After all the male-brain bashing, I was disappointed when their 30-question test said my brain is definitely "masculine." Later chapters are more my style and provide a bit more research background. My gripes about this book are probably due to my unfamiliarity with the genre. Its target audience probably gobbles this stuff up without thinking about what is missing.

The Peases rely heavily on evolutionary psychology, i.e., the differences between men and women date back to their roles as lunch chaser and nest defender, respectively. I've read a few books in that field so many of the concepts, especially in the early chapters, weren't new to me. What I found most interesting were the parts about hormones. For example, testosterone improves math skills (to a point), and women with PMS (when testosterone levels are low) do worse on math tests. Also homosexuality appears to be influenced by how much testosterone is delivered to the womb at a critical early stage of pregnancy.

I also learned in this book that women do not "beer goggle" like men do—if a woman rates a guy as a five at 7 PM, he is still a five at midnight regardless of her alcohol consumption. I guess the role of alcohol isn't to make her think he is more attractive, just to make her not care that he isn't.

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