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December 2012
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Strengths Similarities and Differences for Men and Women

Posted by: Alex Linley & Helen Dovey


We have recently completed an update to the gender norms for the 60 strengths of Realise2, based on a sample of 12,769 people. This update is now included in the Realise2 Technical Manual (all 126 pages of it…).


The striking conclusion we draw from this analysis is that there are far, far more similarities between men and women in relation to the Realise2 strengths, than there are differences. In fact, we could go so far as to say there is a greater difference within gender (between the highest and lowest scoring male, or the highest and lowest scoring female) than there is between the mean scores of each gender.


Where we do find differences, they are all – consistently – of a small effect size, with not a single difference of 180 gender comparisons showing a medium or large effect size. In practice, this means that of the differences that do exist, these differences are small and not worth amplifying or being concerned about in any everyday context.


In a handful of cases (five of 180 gender comparisons), we saw small but consistent gender differences across the three Realise2 dimensions of Performance, Use and Energy.


As a Realise2 practitioner, if you wanted to pay slightly more attention to these strengths when you were working with men or women, respectively, here is the summary:


Competitive is the single strength where men scored consistently higher than women on the three dimensions of Performance, Use and Energy – but again, remember that these effect sizes were only small.


Emotional Awareness, Gratitude, Order and Relationship Deepener were the only strengths where women scored consistently higher than men on the three dimensions of Performance, Use and Energy – but once again, please do remember that these effect sizes were only small.


You might think we’ve gone for overkill with all the mentions of “remember these effect sizes were only small” – and we have, for good reason.


Human beings – and the media in particular – seem to be wired to focus on amplify and gender differences, when the reality is that there are more similarities than there are differences. Our emphasis on this is simply intended to try and prevent you from falling into the same trap.


What do you think about these gender differences and similarities? How do they resonate – or not – with your own experiences? Let us know by sharing your thoughts on the Comment section below.



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3 Responses to Strengths Similarities and Differences for Men and Women

  • Judy Krings says:

    Thanks for the latest research!

  • Hi Alex. A question for my learning. When I did the Realise2 course I was told by the instructor that Realise2 is NOT a psychometric test. More of a way to capture information about an individual. Is this true? If so, then please explain how there can be norm groups. My stats are a bit rusty. Thanks Lyndal

    • Alex Linley says:

      Hi Lyndal, Thanks for your question. The answer lies in some of the specifics of the terminology. Let me explain and apologies in advance that this will of necessity be pedantic. Formally speaking, a “psychometric test” is two things. First, “psychometric” refers quite simply to the measurement of psychological characteristics. Second, “test” – when the word is used properly – is used to refer to something for which there is a “right” answer. As such, personality assessments are “psychometric” but they are not “tests” (strictly speaking, although this terminology is often misused). A true “psychometric test” would be an ability test, relating to, for example, general intelligence, or numerical and verbal ability. For these true “psychometric tests” there is a definite right answer. On this basis, we are careful to say that Realise2 is not a “psychometric test” (because there is no “right” answer). However, Realise2 is “psychometric” (because it measures psychological characteristics). It’s on this basis that we can compare the norms of different groups, as you refer to with this blog. But it’s worth noting that these norms are “norms of responding”, rather than “norms of accuracy”, which would be based on how “right” your answers are. It is this latter type of norms that are used to “norm” psychometric tests (i.e., provide comparison scores in order to make judgements about people based on test scores). I suspect it is to these norms that you were referring. But the norms we use for Realise2 are simply based on comparing the scores of one group of individuals relative to another group, NOT relative to the absolute right answer. Sorry to Lyndal (and other readers) for the long and pedantic answer, but this is one of those issues where the only way to answer the question properly is by being precise with terminology. I hope this helps!

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