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Apr 25, 2014 09:36 AM EDT

Women More Intuitive than Men, Study

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Women are more intuitive and less reflective than men, according to a new study.

Scientists from the University of Granada, the Barcelona Pompeu Fabra University and Middlesex University said that female intuition could be related to lower exposure to testosterone in the womb.

The researchers define intuition as thoughts that are processed unconsciously and involuntarily. It requires minimum cognitive attempt and is more sentimental. On the contrary, reflective thoughts involve sensible examination, which takes a lot of effort and are more realistic.

Previous studies showed that prenatal exposure to testosterone affects developments in the brain. Men are likely to take up challenges than women.

For the study, the researchers used "digital ratio" against 600 students from the University of Granada to determine whether men are less instinctive than women. Digital ratio, an indicator of prenatal testosterone levels, is estimated by dividing the length of the forefinger by the length of the ring finger of the same hand.

"The lower the ratio, the greater the prenatal testosterone received and, therefore, the more "masculine" the cerebral disposition, regardless of the person's gender,' Antonio Manuel Espin, lecturer at the University of Granada, said in a press release.

Espin said that men evidently have a lower average digital ratio than women.

The researchers then conducted a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) with three simple algebra questions that assess intuitive and reflective thoughts. They devised the test in a way that participants would get an incorrect answer when they used their intuition. However, if they analyzed the answers thoroughly (showing reflective thought processes), it would result in the right answer.

The researchers found that men performed better in the tests than women. But women who displayed higher "masculine" (ie, lower) digital ratio, fared similar to men.

 "Women tend to give more intuitive answers, whilst men respond in a more reflexive way. In other words, in this specific test, which penalises intuitive thought, men generally do better than women," Espin said. "What we found was an indication that prenatal exposure to testosterone predisposes people to adopt a more reflexive and less intuitive mind set. Furthermore, this effect seems to be stronger among women,"

The finding is published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.

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