April 14 -- Do boys and girls really deal with people in very different ways? Yes, say researchers like Campbell Leaper of the University of California.
With Leaper's help, we conducted a test that he said would show us the difference. We made some lemonade, but instead of putting in sugar, we deviously put in salt — lots of it.
The different answers that the boys and girls gave us when we asked them if they liked the lemonade spoke volumes.
Being Polite vs. Being Honest
"So how's the lemonade?" I asked Aaron and Jacob. Aaron said, "Eech!" They both said it tasted bad.
Raja told me, "It needs some sugar." Hunter said, "It tastes terrible."
The boys responded the way I would if someone gave me something foul.
The boys' reacted just as Leaper expected they would, because, he said, "Boys are allowed to talk back to their parents more than girls are, to assert their will more."
Would girls react differently? I didn't think they would, but was I ever wrong.
Courteously, Morgan said, "It's good."
Again and again, the girls politely drank, even a girl who looked as if she was choking it down.
Only when I pushed them, did they tell the truth.
I asked one girl, Samantha, why she didn't tell me the lemonade tasted bad. She said, "I didn't want to be rude to you."
"I just didn't want to make anyone feel bad that they made this so sour," Asha told me.
Most boys didn't worry about that.
We tried another test, offering the kids brightly wrapped gifts. Again, following Leaper's advice, we filled each box with a disappointing gift: socks and a pencil.
Once again, the girls were polite.
Samantha said her gift was good. Another little girl, Courtney, was even more enthusiastic, saying, "Just what I needed. Socks and a pencil!"
I must say, the girls have a skill I lack; anyone who gives them a gift is going to feel good about it.
The boys weren't about to make me feel good. "What?" Raja said, "socks and a pencil? Rip-off!" Jacob had a similar reaction.