The Smarter Sex: A Critical Review of Sex Differences in Intelligence

  • Halpern D
  • LaMay M
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Abstract

Although there are no sex differences in general intelligence, reliable differ- ences are found on some tests of cognitive abilities. Many of the tasks that assess the ability to manipulate visual images in working memory show an advantage for males, whereas many of the tasks that require retrieval from long-term memory and the acquisition and use of verbal information show a female advantage. Large effects favoring males are also found on advanced tests of mathematical achievement, especially with highly select samples. Males are also overrepresented in some types of mental retardation. Effects sizes are variable and often large. These differences are generally found cross-culturally and across the life span. The nature–nurture dichotomy is rejected as an interpretive framework. In light of recent findings that environmental variables alter the biological underpinnings of intelligence and individuals actively participate in creating their environments, we prefer a psychobiosocial model for understanding sex differences in intelligence.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Human cognition
  • Human sex differences
  • Intelligence
  • Spatial abilities
  • Verbal abilities

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Authors

  • Diane F. Halpern

  • Mary L. LaMay

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