Friday, November 04, 2016

Differences in How Women and Men Think - olazin@g.ucla.edu - Google Apps for UCLA Mail

eSkeptic: Differences in How Women and Men Think - olazin@g.ucla.edu - Google Apps for UCLA Mail: "Sex, Brains & Hands:
Differences in How Women and Men Think
BY DIANE F. HALPERN   Sex, Brains & Hands: 

Differences in How Women and Men Think

BY DIANE F. HALPERN
When it comes to sex differences in thinking, anyone who maintains a reasonable amount of skepticism, as I presume this audience does, may already be viewing this subject with the same open mindedness that you would apply to recent Elvis sightings. So much has been said and written on sex differences in cognitive abilities that it is difficult to separate the various claims and come up with empirically supported conclusions. My plan is to present some of the theories and research that have explored individual differences in cognition, and discuss what we know and what we do not know.
Test of Spatial Abilities
Click image to enlarge. In rod and frame test(left side), align a rod within these frames so that the rod is vertical. In mental rotation test (right side), compare blocks top left to top right rotation. In second blocks rotation example, compare blocks bottom left to bottom right rotation.
I am a cognitive psychologist and it is my interest in how we think that is the thread tying these seemingly diverse topics of “sex, brains, and hands” together. Like any detective, I have followed some intriguing clues about individual differences in human cognition and have reached some controversial conclusions. For the last several years I have been involved in what I have called “trial by media” or “science by press release.” One of the problems in discussing sex differences in thinking is that the public has received so much misinformation from the press, who are more interested in grabbing the reader’s attention and meeting a deadline than in understanding complex issues. Reporters tend to prefer misleading headlines that have more to do with selling newspapers than with the actual content of the articles. This is not good for science. It is not an unbiased process, and I have begun speaking out against it, especially when I found myself being misquoted and quoted out of context.

There are serious social and political ramifications to concluding empirically that there are systematic sex and laterality differences in cognitive abilities.
When I went into cognitive psychology I did not plan to conduct controversial research. It started when I was teaching courses in cognitive psychology and the psychology of women, and the same question about the relationship between sex (or if you prefer, gender) and cognitive abilities came up in both classes. It seems that almost everyone is interested in this topic, which is probably why it has received so much press coverage in the last several years. […]

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