MEN and women have such different personalities they really could be from Mars and Venus, research has shown.
A new psychological study of more than 10,000 people revealed "striking" gender differences, especially in areas such as sensitivity and dominance.
The findings suggest previous studies have "consistently underestimated" the way personality divides men and women, say the authors.
Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is the title of a best-selling book published in 1996 by American relationship counsellor John Gray.
Gray argues that common relationship problems between men and women are the result of fundamental differences in the way they behave and think.
Men and women are said to be like the inhabitants of different planets with their own customs and rules.
However when it comes to personality, research has indicated comparatively small sex differences.
The new study published today in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE used a fresh approach to assess male and female personality differences which is said to be more accurate.
The test included 15 personality scales including traits such as warmth, sensitivity and perfectionism.
While previous studies tended to look at one trait at a time, the new research also compared "multiple trait" personality profiles. When this was done, large differences became apparent.
Women had significantly higher scores for sensitivity, warmth and apprehension, while emotional stability, dominance, rule-consciousness and vigilance were all rated higher in men.
The researchers led by Dr Marco Del Giudice, from the University of Turin in Italy, wrote: "The results were striking: the effect size for global sex differences in personality was.. an extremely large effect by any psychological standard.. These effect sizes firmly place personality in the same category of other psychological constructs showing large, robust sex differences, such as aggression and vocational interests."
Focusing on sensitivity, the scientists pointed out that this was "not a marginal aspect of personality".
They added: "Sensitivity differentiates people who are sensitive, aesthetic, sentimental, intuitive, and tender-minded from those who are utilitarian, objective, unsentimental, and tough-minded."
The authors concluded: "The true extent of sex differences in human personality has been consistently underestimated."