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Gender Differences In IQ Smaller Than Believed

January 29, 2008

In an interview with Newsweek’s Joan Raymond, British Researcher Adrian Furnham reveals that men are not necessarily more intelligent than their female counterparts; however they certainly believe that they are. Adrian Furnham is a professor of psychology at University College London who studies “perceived intelligence”, or how smart people think they are.

Furnham’s analysis of nearly 30 studies showed that in all actuality, men and women are fairly equal in terms of IQ. He claims that usually men tend to score higher on spatial tests, and women score a bit higher in language development and emotional intelligence. Neither of these things seems to make for a real difference when it comes to intelligence and gender.
The studies Furnham analyzed were international, and his findings show that across the globe, men show pride when it comes to their intelligence; they seem to over-inflate it. Women on the other hand, minimize their own.

When asked if most men think they’re Albert Einstein, Furnham replied, “There certainly is a greater male ego. It’s what we call the male hubris and female humility effect. Men are more confident about their IQ. These studies show that on average, women underestimate their IQ scores by about five points while men overestimate their own IQs. Since these studies were international in scope, the results were essentially the same whether women were from Argentina, America, Britain, Japan or Zimbabwe.” There may be even more factors affecting perceived intelligence, one of those being IQ distribution. In a university setting, especially, men tend to be at the top and the bottom of the bell curve, while women fall in the middle.

It isn’t just the men who think they are more intelligent, the women perceive them as smarter across generations as well. This could mean trouble for children, as parents frequently perceive their sons as smarter than their daughters, solely based on their gender. This is interesting since Great Britain’s school results show that girls are outshining the boys in nearly every subject.

As far as real-world application goes, this study does matter, according to Furnham. Because men perceive themselves as smarter, they are more confident about their abilities. A woman may be incredibly bright, but she may go into a job interview with low self-confidence, while a less intelligent or similarly intelligent man may enter into the interview being incredibly confident and showing self-belief. In a setting like this, self-esteem may be more important than ability.

Furnham does not necessarily want to advocate self-help training. He thinks many of the gurus in that field have incorrect arguments. In his opinion, “”¦it should be that increased performance and feedback on the causes of that performance, ability or effort raises self-esteem.”

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