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Why are men so foolish?

For the first time in human history, women and men commonly compete side by side. Most of the aggressive, ambitious, daring things we attempt to accomplish are done together.

But do men and women compete the same?

Many recent findings in scientific research reveal gender differences – differences in when they choose to compete, differences in risk taking during competition, different responses to the stress of competition, and different strategies for dealing with that stress. Men are quicker to bond with teammates; women are more willing to befriend competitors. Women are less rattled by being ranked, especially when that ranking isn’t near the top. Men are overconfident of their abilities, while women underattribute success to their own skills. Men get more competitive under time pressure, while women get less competitive under time pressure. Men rate their teammates and competitors lower in ability – women rate them higher.

But these are all averages; they don’t necessarily apply to any one man or woman. So the question remains whether these average differences are truly meaningful, especially compared to the broader spectrum of individual differences. Are those scientists making a mountain out of a molehill here? Are the nuanced differences in competitive style significant enough to actually be helpful in maximizing their performance?

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