AnnaMarie Houlis
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If your friends often confide in you about their problems, you tend to be a people person and you sometimes stop to help strangers who are struggling if you have the time and resources, you're most likely a woman, according to new research.

In the biggest-ever study to explore the differences between men and women, researchers found that women are more empathetic and have a stronger ability to intuitively recognize what another person is thinking and respond appropriately. 

Meanwhile, men are more logical and analytical; they tend to view the world through "rule-based systems."

The authors of the research from the University of Cambridge gave 680,000 men and women a set of 20 statements and asked them to respond to each, measuring their levels of empathy and systems-oriented thinking. 

These statements were lines like, “I am interested in knowing the path a river takes from its source to the sea” and “I can easily work out what another person might want to talk about.”

Of the men and women studied, men scored an average of 9.87 out of 20 for empathy, compared to an average score of 10.79 for women. Meanwhile, women only scored an average of 5.45 for systems-based thinking, while men scored an average of 6.73.

“These sex differences in the typical population are very clear; we confirmed that typical females on average are more empathic, typical males on average are more systems-oriented," said Dr. Varun Warrier of the Cambridge team, according to the Telegraph. “We know from related studies that individual differences in empathy and systemizing are partly genetic, partly influenced by our prenatal hormonal exposure, and partly due to environmental experience."

Dr. Warrier noted, however, that more research needs to be done to investigate the extent to which the observed sex differences are due to the aforementioned factors — and how those factors interact.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.