My inner thoughts leading to that question had been hard to articulate, but they're clear now. I certainly sensed something -- an important form in a bag -- but I couldn't tell until now whether the cat is alive or dead!
My social worlds are strongly INT*ish. (I bet that 95% of friends/lovers/co-conspirators -- across my lifetime -- were childhood *NT* or INF*. Compare that 95% to the maybe 12% statistic for America at large, for sheer explanatory power.)
The most fundamental split is between N & S (that's a very essentialized link; please look at it now!).
[20:29] perspectivism: the mind spins.In studying sales/advertising/marketing, other bottom-line practicalities of most American businesses, learning research (that all learning is experiential, and for most people -- S's -- the experiential must be mostly concrete & external), & even cooking & sex, I've gradually come to understand our S sides.
[20:30] perspectivism: on livejournal interest lists, there are basically ZERO *S**s listed.
[20:31] perspectivism: 14 is the highest i've seen so far, as opposed to like 147 infp.
[20:31] perspectivism: so N vs S is a huge huge huge bias.
[20:31] perspectivism: somewhere.
[20:31] perspectivism: in real life, there are many more S's than N's!
[20:31] perspectivism: i think it's 3:1 on the street.
[20:31] perspectivism: 75% S.
[20:32] perspectivism: on lj listings, it's 9:1 or so THE OTHER WAY.
[20:32] perspectivism: that's a 27 times filter.
Our S sides. That's most often how I now think of the split -- in each of us rather than separating us.
"N's have no choice but to turn outward at times and concern themselves with the business of everyday living, while S's do occasionally look inward to ponder, and dream, and make inferences. Such excursions can even be stimulating and satisfying, but neither type can be in both worlds at once, and each will usually show a strong preference for one over the other. For both types, the vitality, the immediacy, and the significance of life is found more easily in their own world, while what is central to the other's world seems relatively foreign, uninteresting, and unimportant."
Do you see how important that last bolded thought is for social motivation??
I can't help but believe that smart S's have the easiest time understanding people in most situations.
And, S is for sports! Most especially team sports! (because of all the communication about external concretes) The causations are multidirectional -- reinforcing from all sides.
This is why Danielle's was my favorite answer. The little sports fanatics, by the time they hit high school, have significantly better social skills than their peers...because they've shaped themselves to enjoyably focus on externals in social teams!
So, why so much gender difference in athletically developed social skills? First: Even most athletic girls don't put nearly as much training into their directly competitive team sports (volleyball/bball), and their average teammates & opponents are not as inspiring. Second: S development (as opposed to N development) is actually less valuable for women!! See Jane Austen. Historically, women base more of their life success on meaningful-to-Ns conversation & activities! Romance is much more N than most jobs, and motherhood changes the brain anyway. Third: Male and female status contests naturally differ.
This dovetails in many ways with the evolpsych explanation. Humanity is born with public-contests-for-pecking-order desires -- and we're also born to learn valuable skills (for survival in the ancestral environment) while practicing for those same public contests. And, most of us do our best teamwork throughout life in similar (cognitively & socially similar) situations to those early practice-and-contest sessions.
Some mindsets match well how most people naturally see & do in team situations. Those mindsets develop in large part through childhood 'outdoor' play. Those mindsets are rather S.