Will expert consensus suggest there are strong innate psychological differences by biological sex? (Excluding: sex desire)

This is a copy of this market, but excluding desire for sex as a psychological attribute:

I will periodically spend time reviewing the current state of expert discourse regarding innate psychological differences by biological sex. This review will consist of light-to-moderate internet reading, browsing studies that have been completed, and requesting the assistance of any personal acquaintances that can best help inform me.

I will make a subjective judgment regarding the "experts" on this topic as of 2040, which will likely be a list of individuals who I (with the help of light research) consider best-informed in that future period.

There needs to be expert "consensus" for this market to resolve. If there is no consensus, I will update the market close timing to be 5 years in the future. I will continue to push out the close date until there is expert consensus. A rough approximation of consensus from my perspective is ~80% of experts voicing roughly the same thing.

I will interpret "strong" subjectively. I don't have a great threshold in mind, but I can try to respond to questions in the comments section if helpful.

By "innate" I am referring to the nature/nurture question (i.e., without regard to societal priming).

I am referring to "biological sex" at birth - not gender.

Any psychological differences that regard one's desire for sex do not count for purposes of this market.

I'm not particularly knowledgeable about this subject as of market creation, but my rough understanding is that - as of market creation - there is no expert consensus on this question.

I may "n/a" and/or "unlist" this question preemptively if it becomes a comment cesspool or if my quality of life decreases for having created the market.

Apr 3, 7:11am: Will expert consensus suggest there are strong innate psychological differences by biological sex? (Ex: sex desire) → Will expert consensus suggest there are strong innate psychological differences by biological sex? (Excluding: sex desire)

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predicts YES

I happened to read this today and it reminded me of this market, so I thought I'd mention it here in case it helps someone.

predicts YES

I'll do a 5k YES limit between 40 and 30 on this if anyone wants. i don't want to leave a limit up in case the author swoops in with a surprise clarification and owns me. (i reserve the right to change my mind before placing the limit ofc)

bought Ṁ46 of NO

@jacksonpolack I don’t have that kind of mana but I put about M450 NO at 40 if you want to fill it

bought Ṁ100 of YES

Curious if your NO bet here rests on emily's 'sex hormones dont matter' argument or something else?

bought Ṁ0 of NO

@jacksonpolack I mostly bet based on vibes, not deep thoughts or research

bought Ṁ20 of YES

how did you notice that trade that quickly?

predicts NO

@jacksonpolack I had a limit order for NO at 40% that got blown through and I happened to be online at the time.

bought Ṁ200 of YES

I don't think it's a plausible interpretation of the title that we're asking 'differences between men and women, ignoring the effect of sex hormones'. Sex hormones are the primary mechanism for conveying the information of sex to cells! Cross-sex hormone therapy interrupts that mechanism. For every sex difference in anything, there's a physical modification that will take a member of one sex and move them to the other sex in that characteristic. And trans people would, presumably, use that mechanism. So by the criteria of 'if trans people use mechanism X to go to the opposite end of sex difference Y, then Y isn't an innate difference', then there are exactly 0 innate differences, because technology could (and will) modify them. This doesn't make any sense as an interpretation of the question. I'd expect >80% of scientists, general public, etc to agree with my interpretation of 'biological/innate sex differences' on this.

And once we've taken that into account, I'm entirely confident that being a man/testosterone strongly increases one's willingness to e.g. commit violent acts, both individually and as a group, among other things. I think the reports of trans people when on hormones, ironically, attest to the significant differences.

bought Ṁ130 of YES


Fully agree. It would be absurd to ask "how do the personalities of higher dopamine producing population differ from a lower dopamine producing population, ignoring the effects of dopamine?" Removing the effects of sex hormones which cause differences between the sexes would neuter this question in the same manner.

As for the question itself, you could know the answer in a week with near certainty by injecting yourself with 500mg of testosterone cypionate. I am drug-free myself, but I have known many enhanced lifters and have heard plenty of interesting stories about the psychological effects.

bought Ṁ41 of NO

Let me break down my thought process here for what would be required for this to credibly resolve as YES:

  • Assume that there are strong, innate psychological differences between men and women. I don't know how much I believe it, but it's needed as a starting assumption.

  • To figure out the causality, we need to control for various factors that could be causing that difference.

  • We need to control for socialization - are children blank slates who grow up to be "masculine" or "feminine" entirely based on their socialization? The existence of trans people and gender-non-conforming people in general makes me suspect that the answer is "no, there's something else going on."

  • We need to control for cultural differences - do we see the same type of psychological differences between men and women in the U.S. as we do in China? India? Brazil? In particular, do we see these psychological differences between people whose exposure to globalization is very low, i.e. not influenced by media from other cultures? If the answer here is "no," then it suggests that whatever is happening isn't inherently biological in nature, and is instead social.

  • Then we need to control for the fact that this question is not actually asking about strong, innate psychological differences between men and women. It is asking about strong, innate psychological differences between AMAB people and AFAB people. Those are two different questions.

  • The reason we control for that so late in the process is that (roughly) 98-99% of people are cisgender. As such, differences between men and women are often correlated with biological sex, but they aren't always - especially where any sociocultural forces are at play.

  • Therefore, to answer the question this market is actually asking, we need to control for any differences between men and women that are not a result of the gender assigned to them at birth.

  • The main thing we need to control for is sex hormones. They have a documented effect on the nervous system, and a documented effect on psychology. However, a person's primary sex hormone is not necessarily correlated with their sex at birth. Luckily, there's an easy way to control for that - and to an extent to control for socialization and cultural factors too.

  • Enter trans people, stage left. Trans people, particularly those of us on HRT, typically have much more in common with our current gender than we do with our gender assigned at birth, including our primary sex hormone. As a matter of fact, many trans people are more or less biologically identical to cis people of their gender...with the only difference being sex assigned at birth, which is what this question is about. Boom. Instant control group.

  • If there are strong, innate psychological differences between men and women, but not strong, innate psychological differences between trans people and cis people of the same gender, this market must, by its own definition's rules, resolve as NO. This is because the strong, innate psychological differences observed must be caused by something OTHER than sex assigned at birth.

  • This market would only resolve as YES if there were strong, innate psychological differences between trans people and cis people of the same gender. Literally, like - if AMAB women and AFAB women have more in common psychologically than AMAB women and AMAB men, then, AGAB cannot be the cause of the psychological differences. This is why I am buying NO.

  • Let's say I'm wrong about this - even then, the differences need to be greater than 5% for this market to resolve as YES, and they can't involve any differences related to sex desire/libido.

tl;dr You shouldn't buy YES on this unless you think that sex assigned at birth has a stronger influence on someone's psychology than their socialization, the culture they were raised in, and their primary sex hormone.

@evergreenemily Excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought the usefulness of hormone therapy in trans people is downstream of hormones correlating strongly with sex assigned at birth. That has lead me to believe that the existence of trans people strongly suggests substantial non-hormonal physiological differences between cis sexes (I assume you don't believe that transgenderism is a social phenomenon). I also know a disproportionate amount of trans siblings, which weakly suggests a genetic component, but of course that could be explained any number of ways for people with the same parents and upbringing.

If hormones are the primary mechanism of action, how does hormone therapy work? Also, I'm now wondering if childhood obesity rates are driving the MtoF trans rates up over time.

predicts NO

@Frogswap My intuition is that there's a strong genetic component to being trans, but that actually means sex assigned at birth in and of itself isn't the cause of any psychological differences. I think it's something neurological, like the brain structure - and that neurological difference is strongly correlated with AGAB, but not 100%. Instead, it's correlated one-to-one with gender identification because it causes gender identification. That's just a theory (a Game Biology Theory), but it would explain a lot. I suspect that sex hormones can reinforce these differences, based on how much people's personalities can change after puberty, on HRT, after menopause, etc.

Specifically, I think that:

  • The brain "expects" a certain body type - i.e. some brains expect XX, others expect XY.

  • The body type and neurological expectation usually align, but around 1% of the time, they don't. This could be random chance, or there could be specific conditions that cause it, e.g. mother's diet/hormone balance/etc.

  • Physical dysphoria is primarily the result of the brain being unhappy with the hormone balance of the body, and "expecting" different physical features than the body has. This is why gender dysphoria is very treatable with HRT and various surgeries - it brings the actual body closer to the one the brain is structured to expect.

As for how HRT works - it depends. Many trans men inject testosterone, and many trans women take an anti-androgen and estradiol by mouth or patch (anti-androgens are needed because testosterone tends to "overpower" estrogen for reasons I don't fully understand.) After years of HRT, a trans person's endocrine system is more or less the same as a cis person of the same gender, which has a variety of effects - typically the physical and psychological changes are substantial. I don't expect that obesity has anything to do with it, since I think transness is genetic - even if obesity increases estrogen production, I'd expect that to just induce slight dysphoria in cis men.

@evergreenemily I suspect it's not pertinent for this market, but this model suggests to me that biological sex at birth is just being determined by the wrong genes (I guess it's done by genitals, but as a proxy for the wrong genes) by the medical community today. ie. that someone with an XY is not necessarily genetically, and therefore not necessarily biologically, male. Actually this makes a ton of sense for explaining the MtoF vs FtoM difference- "it's more likely for a Y to relevantly match an X than for an X to match a Y" is simple and carries a lot of explaining power.

I'm sure there's nothing novel here, but this is a big update for my mental model (away from "shrug?"), thanks!

@CarsonGale Actually, how would you resolve if expert consensus on the meaning of "biological male/female" shifted in this way?

predicts YES

@evergreenemily I don't see why we have to split men and women into different subpopulations and control for any variables that differ between those subpopulations. You could use that argument to rule out almost any property of a thing causing anything. It's reasonable to assume the question is asking whether men and women differ on average. You wouldn't say that there are no differences in height between men and women just because there are some men who are shorter than some women.

Can you nail down what "strong" means at least a little? If men are 10% more aggressive or 10% better at math than women, does that count? 5%? 1%?

bought Ṁ25 of NO

@IsaacKing It's worth noting that this question isn't actually asking about differences between men and women as written. Many of the observed differences probably have more to do with sex hormones than sex assigned at birth, and if you want to control for sex hormones but let sex assigned at birth vary, it becomes a question about whether trans people on HRT are neurologically more similar to their gender assigned at birth or their actual gender. Given my own experiences, I'm neurologically similar enough to cis women that I don't think any threshold for "strong" will end up resulting as YES.

predicts NO

@IsaacKing something like 10% difference seems more likely to resolve positive, 5% and below unlikely.

bought Ṁ30 of YES

@evergreenemily Sex chromosomes have a significant influence on sex hormones, and excluding this influence I find difficult to comprehend. Difference in sex hormone levels in the general population are mainly caused by difference in biological sex (because people taking hormones are a minority), and if variations in hormones between MAAB and FAAB are associated with psychological differences, the logical conclusion to this question should be yes. There is no confounding to correct for in a normal path of causation.

predicts NO

@Geriperi I disagree, because this question is specifically asking about sex assigned at birth and not what sex hormones someone has in their body. Resolving this as YES because of sex hormones would be incorrect, because it completely ignores the fact that trans people exist and the primary determinant of psychological differences is hormones rather than sex assigned at birth. Just because those are correlated for 99% of people doesn't mean you can ignore the 1% who are an exception - it's not good science.

"Biological sex" includes hormone production.

predicts YES

@evergreenemily I never said anything about ignoring people who are transgender. If you take a big population, among which are (proportionally) people who take hormones, the hormone distribution will still be skewed towards MAAB for testosterone and FAAM for estradiol. Thus any effect of these hormones on behaviour will lead to a behavioural difference between MAAB and FAAM. Excluding this effect is bad science, because it fails to consider the significant impact of hormones on behavior within the context of the broader population. The question is not: "Will experts agree on whether transgender women and cisgender women are psychologically the same?". The question is focused on whether there are significant innate psychological differences based on biological sex. Nothing in the question indicates that biological factors should be excluded from this analysis.

predicts NO


The question is focused on whether there are significant innate psychological differences based on biological sex

Yes, and you would expect any "innate psychological differences" that are based on biological sex at birth and NOT hormones to show up as differences between cis people and trans people, because that's how you control for hormones and only measure differences that are based on biological sex at birth - which is what this question is asking about. If there are no strong innate psychological differences between the average trans person on HRT and the average cis person of the same gender, then that suggests that this question should resolve as NO because clearly someone's biological sex at birth doesn't matter.

"Biological sex" includes hormone production.

I'm on a strong enough combination of anti-androgens and estrogen to reduce my testosterone levels to well below the average male range (still slightly above the average female range for reasons I'm not 100% sure of - I probably want to increase my HRT dose, but that's neither here nor there.) In other words, my current level of sex hormones is not the level of sex hormones that is typical of someone who was assigned male at birth, and much more closely resembles the level of sex hormones that is typical of someone who was assigned female at birth. This has probably changed my neurological development, since I started HRT years ago, while my brain was still developing.

tl;dr Someone's primary sex hormone based on their biological sex at birth and their primary sex hormone as they are currently are not necessarily the same, and as such, sex hormones need to be controlled for to be able to infer the causality of biological sex specifically at birth. I do not expect that biological sex at birth is correlated with strong innate psychological differences after controlling for current sex hormone levels.

bought Ṁ50 of NO

@StrayClimb That is the most rancid comment section I've ever seen in my life, which leads me to highly doubt the objectivity of the blog post; anyone who cultivates an audience like that has ulterior motives.

@evergreenemily who cares? you aren't addressing the facts and the argument.

Oh I see what you did there, you applied the social exclusion pattern described in the article to attempt to socially prevent discussion of the idea, rather than addressing the points made in the article.