She also discovered that there is also very little difference in nurturing tendencies between the sexes, and this characteristic is dependent upon the social context, for example, if there are onlookers. The same holds true for interrupting. Researchers have long thought that men interrupted more than women, but the differences can be minimal depending on the social context.
Despite these findings society seems to cling to the idea of these stereotypical differences. Notes Hyde in her article, "There are serious costs of over inflated claims of gender differences. These costs occur in many areas including work, family and relationships."
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"If," Hyde explains, "men and women believe what they have been told—that it is almost impossible to communicate with each other—they may simply give up on trying to resolve the conflict through better communication."
"People think that they can’t communicate across gender in heterosexual couples and this is a problem," says Hyde, "But in fact communication styles are quite similar and men and women communicate quite well all the time. Sometimes when I give talks to big audiences, after talking for about 20 minutes, I say are you understanding me and of course they are. I am speaking perfect English."
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A study conducted by Dr. Erina MacGeorge and published in the February 2004 issue of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research supports Hyde’s assertions. In an interview on the topic MacGeorge, who is an assistant professor at Purdue University, notes, "Overall, men and women were both likely to express sympathy, share similar problems with distressed friends or discourage their friends from worrying. Men did give a bit more advice more often than women, and women were slightly more likely to provide support by affirming their friend or offering help. However, men and women were only 2 percent different."