Dec 1, 2017

How predictive are sex and empathizing-systemizing cognitive style for entry into the academic areas of social or physical sciences?

Cognitive Processing
Y GroenO Tucha

Abstract

Based on the Empathizing-Systemizing (E-S) theory, it was hypothesized that the underrepresentation of female students in the physical sciences and the underrepresentation of males in the social sciences relates to differences in E-S cognitive style between the sexes. This hypothesis was tested in 115 physical science students and 155 social science students from a university in the Netherlands. The students completed visuospatial tests and the systemizing quotient-revised (SQ-R) as measures for systemizing, and a Cartoon Prediction test and the empathy quotient (EQ) as measures for empathizing. Independent of sex, the physical science students scored significantly lower than social science students on EQ (with large effect size) and 'brain type' that represents the standardized difference score between EQ and SQ-R (with large effect size). Physical science students, furthermore, scored significantly higher on the Cartoon Prediction task and one of the visuospatial tasks; however, these effects were only small of size. Unlike the scores on the SQ-R and the performance tests, the 'brain type' score of the EQ and SQ-R questionnaires was a good predictor of entry into social or physical sciences. Interestingly, the typical sex dif...Continue Reading

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