We asked Daniel G. Amen, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of Amen Clinics and author of Unleash the Power of the Female Brain to share the game-changing characteristics that explain why women are the way they are. What makes him an expert? Well, he has five sisters, 3 daughters and fourteen nieces, plus he looked at nearly 40,000 scans that compared male and female brains over the past 22 years.
Not only is this a human-only emotion (no, your cat Cuddles does not have it), it is way more active in female brains. “Studies show that women tend to be able to empathize or get in the head of others which gives them perspective,” says Amen. Translation: We feel your pain.
They don't call it "woman's intuition" for nothing. “Women are able to know something without really knowing it,” says Amen. Sound like fortune-teller hoopla? “Studies show that the frontal lobe in the cerebral cortex is more active in women,” says Amen. “In part, because the white matter here has more connections, and therefore, women are able to pick up on more emotional cues like facial expressions.”
That's basically just what it sounds like: Women worry about things a lot more than their male counterparts. And, you know what that means? We also tend to do the right thing simply by default — and from an early age, too. Because if you worry, you have a little bit of fear of what could happen in the future as a result of your actions should you take the wrong path. As a result of this worry, we tend to have less disease and illness in old age, because we take better care of ourselves .
Okay, so may be this sounds like too much Little House on the Prairie and not enough Mean Girls, but if you think about it, most of the time women have a "can’t we all just get along" theme song. “Women want to do things together, and have synergy,” says Amen. “Essentially, they are not driven to dominate.” So, in the office, just like it was on the playground, women tend to want everyone to win. And, when you’re with your besties, it could be why a Saturday night dance party just never gets old. Of course, there is the exception to the rule: the backstabbing, cutthroat, catty chicks who will do anything to get ahead. We say, there's nothing wrong with ambition and trying to get ahead, but not if it means throwing someone else under the bus.
Sure, we may want to do x, y, and z but…we can usually keep ourselves in check and not cave to every whim that our mind whips up. “You see this in childhood,” says Amen. “Young girls do better than boys in school — they listen, they stay in their seat.” And research shows it may do way more for you than just get you an A+ in science class: “Self-control may be the number one predictor of longevity,” says Amen. Here's to a long, happy, healthy — and brainy — life.
Illustrated by Isabelle Rancier