Original Research

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus: Exploring gender differences in personality in the South African context

Sumaya Laher, Sarah Croxford
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 11, No 1 | a499 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v11i1.499 | © 2013 Sumaya Laher, Sarah Croxford | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 October 2012 | Published: 02 October 2013

About the author(s)

Sumaya Laher, Psychology: School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Sarah Croxford, Psychology: School of Human and Community Development, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Orientation: Gender differences in personality have been explored in American and European contexts, but African and specifically South African research in the area is lacking.

Research purpose: This study investigated whether there were gender differences in personality and what this might mean for a South African organisational context where personality assessments are frequently employed for decision-making.

Motivation: Personality  tests  are  widely  used  in  many  fields,  including  the  industrial, organisational and research fields. Due to the impact that these tests have, it is essential that these tests are used in a fair and unbiased manner.

Research design, approach and method: A cross-sectional, non-experimental design was used. A questionnaire consisting of demographic information and the NEO-PI-R was administered to a non-probability, convenience sample of 425 South African university students. The data was examined using ANOVAs and ANCOVAs.

Main findings: Significant gender differences were found on Neuroticism, Anxiety, Vulnerability, Depression, Self-consciousness, Extraversion, Warmth, Activity, Assertiveness, Positive emotions, Aesthetics, Feelings, Ideas, Agreeableness, Compliance, Tender-mindedness, Altruism, Modesty, Straightforwardness, Trust, Conscientiousness, Order, Achievement striving and Self-discipline.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings indicate differences between men and women are systematic and largely innate and therefore need to be acknowledged when personality tests are used in decision-making. Personality tests also need to be employed constructively to further team-building and diversity.

Contribution/value-add: This study adds to the body of research in South Africa on gender as well as on how the NEO personality scales manifest in different race groups.


Gender; culture; Five-Factor Model; NEO-PI-R; personality


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Crossref Citations

1. Individual corrupt behavior: An experimental analysis of the influence factors personality and gender
Patrick Ulrich, Stefan Behringer, Anjuli Unruh, Vanessa Frank
Corporate Ownership and Control  vol: 19  issue: 2  first page: 93  year: 2022  
doi: 10.22495/cocv19i2art8