Our recent survey uncovered interesting differences between how men and women face difficult life decisions. While perhaps not surprising, the results are worth thinking about.
We asked a total of two-thousand Internet connected Americans to think of the most difficult life decision they faced in the past two years, and then pick what was most helpful in making that decision. The list is based on Wahanegi, Inc. research into the ways people make difficult or important life decisions.
Women are much more likely to find it helpful to look inward for answers than men. As you can see, 31% of women found it helpful to listen to their hearts or guts. Similarly, praying, meditating or sleeping on it was helpful for 29% of women. The compares to 22% and 20% of men, respectively.
Men and women found talking with friends and family most helpful in roughly equal measure – 30% of women and 26% of men. There was also no significant difference when it came to searching the Internet, with 12% of women and 13% of men saying it was most helpful.
Few people found more commercial or standardized methods most helpful. This includes lists, journaling, spreadsheets or other tools; talking with experts; and reading books, magazines or specific websites. Even if you add them all up, women still find them less helpful than any one of the big three (hearts and guts; friends and family; or prayers, meditation and sleep) on its own.
But what about the poor souls who answered ‘None of the Above,’ comprising over a quarter of women and a third of men? To some extent that high response rate is probably bad data; we used Google Consumer Insights for this survey, so some people may have made that choice to avoid answering the question. We are considering a follow-up survey to correct for this. However, based on our other less statistically rigorous research, we have found that for some people and some difficult decisions, nothing is most helpful.
As for the higher number of men in that sad situation, perhaps they can learn something from the women around them and spend some time looking inward for answers to impossible decisions. Said another way, not only are women 20% more likely to find multiple methods helpful, but men are also 30% more likely to find nothing helpful. What works for women may well work for them, too.
Or you can sign up for our beta and see what we’re up to.
The survey was fielded in the second half of October, 2012 by Wahanegi, Inc. The 95% confidence interval is roughly +/-1 to 3% depending on the response, with the larger band applying to higher percentage responses. Two separate samples of 1000 responses were averaged to generate the final results. Respondents were allowed to select more than one answer.