Gender Differences in Math Intelligence: Is it a gift or a matter of personality?
PsychTests AIM Inc. reveals interesting gender results from their intelligence test and ponders the potential relationship between personality and IQ.
MONTREAL, CANADA (PR.COM) -- June 1, 2010
Much like research studies in the past, PsychTests' IQ Test (http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2148) results reveal a gap in men's and women's performance on several scales, but most notably arithmetic. However, like many theorists, PsychTests believes that there's more to this gap than the "you either got it, or you don't" belief. Research has revealed that stereotypes and confidence may play a significant role on how men and women perform on intelligence tests, and how they view their abilities in general.
In a recent episode of "The Simpsons", Springfield Elementary is split into a boys-only and girls-only school. This compels Lisa to dress like a boy (with the ironic name of Jack Boyman), in order to benefit from the math lessons that the girls had been denied. After being rewarded for being the best math student in the school, Lisa proudly reveals her true identity, but Bart trumps her with a humorous although hauntingly significant quote: "The only reason Lisa won is because she learned to think like a boy! I turned her into a burping, farting, bullying, math machine!"
Many girls and boys have been taught to believe, whether consciously or not, that there are certain areas where they are meant to excel, and other areas where they are not. Math has been a thorn in the side of many girls. On PsychTests' IQ assessment, men outperformed women on nearly every scale by a few points, but the most prominent gap was the Arithmetic scale, where women were outscored by over ten points (average for men 113, average for women 102; population average 105). While scores were age-dependent (older test-takers outscored younger ones), women still performed below the population average. Even in the area of verbal skill, where women are thought to excel, PsychTests' statistics reveal that men lead in the scoring as well, albeit by 2 points.
"Arithmetic is a form of what is called "crystallized" intelligence, which refers to knowledge that we accumulate with education, time, and experience," explains Dr. Jerabek, president of the company. "Therefore, it can improve as we accumulate more knowledge or skills in an area. The question is, why is it that girls are struggling? What's holding them back from absorbing and retaining this knowledge? Research seems to point to the impact of stereotypes, which can impact girls' confidence and sense of self-efficacy in this subject area."
Research by Carol Dweck (2007) indicates that the belief that intelligence in math is a "gift" can be extremely counterproductive for women. In her past research, students who believed that intellectual ability is a gift and fixed, rather the something that can improve with practice and experience, tended to struggle when encountering academic challenges. Research has also shown that teachers can inadvertently "sabotage" their students' performance based on their own expectations and beliefs. Stevenson et al.'s (1993) research on school performance of Japanese and American students alludes to the fact that this could explain why Japanese students consistently outperform their American counterparts. Japanese teachers tend to expect all students to excel in all subjects, while American teachers may fly on the assumption that intelligence is mostly innate. Stereotypes may be why, in a study by Rammstedt & Rammsayer (2000) where men and women were asked to provide estimates of their intellectual capacity, men provided higher estimates than women of their mathematical, spatial, and reasoning ability, areas which men are thought (and perhaps expected) to excel in.
"We are now contemplating a study that will allow us to assess personality characteristics and attitudes like confidence and self-efficacy, intellectual capacity, and personal beliefs all in one," says Dr. Jerabek. "The recent results of our test on Gender Roles (version for men, version for women) reveal that there are still some traditional beliefs that seem to die hard, like men's and women's place in the modern world, and the type of careers they are "suited" to. Some of these gender stereotypes, even those regarding intelligence, can go deep - and affect our decisions and behavior whether we realize it or not."
With millions of test-takers since the first version was offered back in 1996, PsychTests' "What is your general IQ" test (http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2148) is one of their most popular assessments.
Psychtests originally appeared on the internet scene in 1997. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. Psychtests staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts. Psychtests was founded and is led by Dr. Ilona Jerabek, a specialist in the field of psychometric assessments and Vrat Jerabek Ph. D., a researcher and authority in the field of artificial intelligence.