Why women are the real puzzle fanatics

By Time of article published Oct 22, 2010

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London - Given men’s reputation as the competitive sex, it’s a verdict that is puzzling to say the least.

When it comes to crosswords and Sudokus, it’s actually women that tend to take them seriously, research shows.

Women were four times more likely than men to admit to being compulsive puzzle players obsessed only with winning, the study found.

On the other hand, more men than women said their motivation for completing puzzles was to keep themselves intellectually sharp.

The study questioned 598 people, with equal numbers of men and women, on their puzzle habits.

Most (41 percent) described themselves as “Challenger” players who completed puzzles to keep themselves mentally active and exercise their brains.

More than 15 percent described themselves as “Intuitive” players who were naturally talented at puzzles and whose only goal was to complete them.

Some 14 percent confessed to being “Secret” puzzlers who played on the quiet; while 12 percent were “Dipping” puzzlers who made a crossword last a week, often without finishing it.

“Social” puzzle fans, who played only in company, accounted for 11 percent.

Just 7 percent would admit to being “Compulsive” players who described themselves as having a deeply competitive streak and being obsessed with winning.

Of those, 81 percent were female, implying that women are more likely to mean business when it comes to puzzle-playing.

Of the “Challenger” group, who played to stir their grey matter, 51 percent were men.

But more women than men (61 percent to 39 percent) admitted to being “Dippers”. And women accounted for 61 percent of those in the “Secret” category.

The research, commissioned by Nintendo, also found that almost every adult (96 percent) has played a puzzle or brainteaser at some time.

Other recent scientific studies have suggested that brainteasers and logic puzzles can help the brain to perform better.

One found that completing crosswords and playing Sudoku can make your brain up to 14 years younger. Puzzles involving words and numbers were found to be best at retaining mental dexterity.

These are the six types identified in the survey:

- Compulsive: The compulsive puzzle player is obsessive and focused only on winning. They cannot resist the challenge and will continue playing until they’ve won. Most likely to throw a tantrum when faced with defeat.

- Challenger: A more discerning player who views puzzles as a way to keep themselves intellectually sharp rather than as something to be completed.

- Intuitive: This player breezes through crosswords and games without worrying about their performance. They play only to win but they tend to be naturally talented at problem-solving.

- Social: They see puzzles and games as a bit of fun and tend to play only when in company. This person does not take puzzles seriously, but enjoys them when they do play.

- Secret: The secret puzzler sees playing games as a bit of a guilty pleasure and tends not to let on how often they indulge their habit. They outwardly deny that they are obsessed and usually play alone.

- Dipping: This player can make a puzzle last a week and regularly leaves games and crosswords unfinished. They play for pleasure and rarely complete their puzzles. - Daily Mail

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