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How Men and Women Badly Estimate Their Own Intelligence 928

Posted by timothy
from the lake-woebegone-effect dept.
theodp writes "In investigating the question of whether men are smarter than women, British researcher Adrian Furnham came up with some startling results. His analysis of some 30 studies showed that men and women are fairly equal overall in terms of IQ, but women underestimate their own intelligence while men overestimate theirs. Surprisingly, both men and women perceived men being smarter across generations — both sexes believe that their fathers are smarter than their mothers and their grandfathers are more intelligent than their grandmothers. And if there are children, both men and women think their sons are brighter than their daughters."
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How Men and Women Badly Estimate Their Own Intelligence

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  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:46PM (#30346710) Homepage
    Why isn't anyone raving about the Twitter feed called Shit My Mom Says?
    • by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:49PM (#30346724)
      Because old people [libraryvoice.com] don't rave.
    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:53PM (#30346754)
      Being intelligent is different than acting intelligently. Women definitely play down their intelligence, and men let them. Which causes all kinds of havoc like when the women's movement decides that it's OK to not include non-monetary income so that they can claim discrimination or can suggest that equality means that in the more esoteric and technically advanced fields it needs to be 50%. Even if the total degree count ends with them getting twice as many. And pay no attention to the changes in education that "fix" the inequality problem by creating a new inequality that's facing the other way.

      Or that despite having more votes than men, it's somehow men's fault that we haven't had a female President and few female Senators. Subscribing to a lower set of standards is convenient when demanding reparations, but it's not the way to actually earn any sort of meaningful respect. What happened to women a century back and earlier has precisely nothing to do with the present day.

      Women aren't stupid, but there's a shocking lack of interest in actually using any of it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WaywardGeek (1480513)

        Here in North Carolina, women try to act dumb. Actually, there's nothing hotter than a good-looking drunk dumb chick. I met my wife in a bar, and we discussed physics and religion and still managed to get to a first date, but the funny thing is on other occasions I'd pretend to be a pilot, and she'd pretend to be a dumb blond stewardess. Actually, around here some of the guys try and act dumb, too. We've got a strong anti-intellectual culture. One thing that's a sure turn-off to a southern man is a wom

      • by digitig (1056110) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:29PM (#30347058)

        Or that despite having more votes than men, it's somehow men's fault that we haven't had a female President and few female Senators. Subscribing to a lower set of standards is convenient when demanding reparations, but it's not the way to actually earn any sort of meaningful respect.

        To assume that it's a "fault" that you haven't had a female president or that "meaningful respect" is a serious driver is very male-oriented thinking. Thing is, women aren't defective men, they're their own people with their own motivations. Only about 20% of women are motivated primarily by extrinsic factors such as pay and status, compared to about 60% of men (source: Susan Pinker's The Sexual Paradox [susanpinker.com]. Women are far more likely than men to be motivated by intrinsic factors such as feeling that their work is doing some good.That means that fewer women reach the top because most women would rather be doing something they enjoyed. (For what it's worth, women consistently score higher than similarly qualified men for job satisfaction -- Pinker again. There's more than one glass ceiling, but we don't notice the job-satisfaction one because we choose male-oriented measures of success.

        There is another reason fewer women reach the top, though: although the average intelligence of men and women is about the same, the variance is significantly higher in men. So women are right: if somebody does something really dumb then it probably was a man. But the other side of that coin, which women tend not to like so much, if that if somebody does something really smart, that probably was a man too

        And for those whose mouse is hovering on the "flamebait" button, remember that this is about averages. Nothing I've said means that a woman can't be stunningly intelligent and can't be driven by money and power -- just that they tend to be less extreme and more sensible.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        Or that despite having more votes than men, it's somehow men's fault that we haven't had a female President and few female Senators. ... What happened to women a century back and earlier has precisely nothing to do with the present day.

        What ignorance.

        In 220 years, there have been 38 female Senators.
        Of those 38, slightly over 1/3rd were appointed, not elected.
        None of them were in office until after 1920.
        Why 1920? Because until then, women were not treated as equal citizens.
        Hell, there are still States that have never elected a female Senator.

        I could give you other examples, but it suffices to say that the
        inequalities and prejudices of the past almost always linger far into the future.

  • IQ != Intelligence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peteskiplayer (1032662) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:49PM (#30346730)
    IQ is more a measure of your 'working' memory and capacity to quickly understand new topics, it doesn't necessarily to what a person would call 'intelligent'. Allegedly GWBush was has a fairly high IQ (well at least 120+) yet, outwardly at least, he may not seem it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fluffy99 (870997)

      Allegedly GWBush was has a fairly high IQ (well at least 120+) yet, outwardly at least, he may not seem it.

      That's because having a high IQ (a nebulously defined quantity anyway) or being intelligent has no bearing on the ability to lead, being a puppet, or even having the ability to speak without sounding like a chimpanzee. Indeed, I find many charismatic, smooth talkers to be shocking simple-minded.

    • by evanbd (210358) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:17PM (#30346962)

      Of course, IQ does a remarkably good job at what it's intended to do: correlate with the sort of things we normally associate with intelligence, in the context of a statistical study. Sure, there are plenty of people who seem stupid in some ways but have high IQ; on average, though, it works well.

      This is yet another case of people who know what IQ is actually supposed to be used for using it that way, and then the uninformed public complaining that it doesn't perfectly match something else.

      Did you have some alternate metric that this study could have used in place of IQ that would do a better job?

    • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:30PM (#30347064)

      Allegedly GWBush has a fairly high IQ (well at least 120+)

      (Allegedly there, I FTFY.) That's alleged by people who allegedly have an allegedly low IQ themselves (well at least 80-, allegedly) and will, I allege, show up shortly to allege otherwise. I'll also allege that I'd like to hear what new alleged topics Bush allegedly had the capacity to allegedly understand.

      They allegedly always allege that Bush was allegedly smarter than Obama (allegedly our new president, although he allegedly has some alleged paperwork problem allegedly involving his alleged birth in the State allegedly of Hawaii- allegedly one of the States which are themselves alleged to be United- that magically [allegedly] transports his alleged birth to the alleged nation of Kenya as if that would allegedly make them alleged victims even if it were allegedly true in the alleged first place).

      Now before anyone allegedly jumps on me, please allegedly remember that I allegedly only alleged these things were alleged, so I'm allegedly sorry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Boronx (228853)

      The perception of George Bush as stupid is more a reflection of the very human need to believe that the King is not evil, and blame his advisors for leading him astray.

    • by turing_m (1030530) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:11PM (#30348390)

      Allegedly GWBush was has a fairly high IQ (well at least 120+) yet, outwardly at least, he may not seem it.

      120 is top 9%, near enough to 1/10. That's not even 2 standard deviations. For a clerk, it's on the high end. For a president, it's low, unless you want a puppet. There are roughly 28 million people in the US with a higher IQ than 120.

  • Well, Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hedgemage (934558) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:51PM (#30346736)
    Only recently have we even acknowledged that women are not inherently inferior to men, so is it so much of a surprise to learn that there is a strong cultural gender bias in favor of men being superior in intelligence?
    In my own family, my mother is a medical doctor, while my father never made it through college, and despite this reversal, I have caught myself falling into the same traps and patterns that society at large puts out as truth that women are inferior to men in certain fields of study, if not all intellectual pursuits.
    • I think (Score:3, Insightful)

      we go out of our way to always make it sound like the sexes are equal. We can't ever just say a negative we have to find some way of qualifying it. For example the article says that men are better at spatial recognization but then says but women are better at "emotional intelligence". Since when is emotional a type of intelligence? The way I've seen the term used it has been to mean being able to correctly identify what you or others are feeling. Well good for you. It is similar to awarding points for being
  • by RobVB (1566105) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:52PM (#30346750)

    both men and women perceived men being smarter across generations

    What's important is not reality but our perception of it. Men 1 - women 0.

  • Variance is the key (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nawitus (1621237) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:52PM (#30346752)
    Men have more variance in IQ, that's why there's more very smart men than very smart women. Of course, there's more very stupid men, which is reflected in crime rates etc.
  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:58PM (#30346798)
    I recall reading an article earlier (no idea where it is now) that looked at exactly what the different genders "know" and are "smart at". Men generally fared well in the more science and maths based questions, while women fared significantly better at sociology and understanding emotions in others. Assuming this is true (and it seems accurate based on the people I know) then this may support the "men think they are smarter article". People generally associate intelligence with the sciences, while paying less detail to other parts that make up a persons intelligence. I would say that if the association with sciences and intelligence wasn't there, women would certainly see themselves as being quite smart. After all, how many women would say "oh, yes, my partner is so much better than me when dealing with an emotional crisis over the phone" and by the same token, not many males would say "My partner is certainly smarter than me, she knew just the right thing to say when I was arguing with my brother...".
    • by defaria (741527) <Andrew@DeFaria.com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:12PM (#30347400) Homepage
      Ah the emotional intelligence argument. When a wealth women loses all of her money in a scam job I would just love to ask her "It's a shame you lost all your money but how did you *feel* about the transaction?!?". Why do we give equal weight to so called emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence will not put food on the table, cure cancer, build bridges, etc. Clearly it's a lot less valuable.
      • by Temposs (787432) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ssopmet}> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:12PM (#30347958) Homepage

        Emotional intelligence certainly can put food on the table. There are a number of high-paying jobs that rely primarily on relational finesse and emotional manipulation. Marketing/advertising, counseling, business management, negotiation, etc...

        Further, emotional intelligence does other useful things such as bringing about peace between individuals, families, or even nations. While men at large would default to settle disputes through violent means, women would do it peacefully by default. This also means women do well at solidifying familial ties and promoting cooperation in communities, which is why it is now very well known that the best way to help a poor developing country is to give women what they need to be successful, as opposed to what the male leaders would request.

        • by DeadChobi (740395) <DeadChobi.gmail@com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @10:02PM (#30348330)

          So what you're saying is that men are brutish, ugly creatures who prefer to punch each other rather than discuss disputes rationally. Well, I guess the majority of scientific consensus reached prior to the sexual revolution in the 60s was pretty bloody what with all the fistfights and gunshot wounds.

          Nevermind the fact that both sexes have the tendancy to resolve disputes through violence, let's perpetuate the stereotype of woman as a "meek, caring little creature" and man as a "strong, willful monster."

  • by graffitirock (1481313) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:02PM (#30346818)

    Believe it or not, I live with a women and she could care
    less about an IQ test. I would also like to go on record as
    saying that she is much smarter than me Iloveyouhoney.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:28PM (#30347542)

      Believe it or not, I live with a women and she could care less about an IQ test. I would also like to go on record as saying that she is much smarter than me

      And I don't think anyone would disagree.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gte275e (91656)

      Believe it or not, I live with a women and she could care
      less about an IQ test. I would also like to go on record as
      saying that she is much smarter than me Iloveyouhoney.

      How much more could she care less? Could she care 10% less? 50% less? Could she possible care 100% less? If she could care 100% less, it says to me that she actually cares a lot about an IQ test.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by trouser (149900)

        What he/she said only I'd have used a lot more swearing. "Could care less" meaning "couldn't care less" is one of the most irritating idioms in the American use of English.

  • Obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by liquiddark (719647) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:03PM (#30346828)
    Clearly this is the case. Men haven't been able to win domestic arguments since clubbing and dragging was considered a valid way to conduct discourse.
  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:27PM (#30347032)
    Another study of teachers, asked to estimate the IQ of their students, found they overestimated the IQ of extroverted kids, and underestimated the IQ of quiet kids. Males tend to be more extroverted than females, so that could explain the perception of males as 'smarter'.
  • Bold = Smart (Score:5, Interesting)

    by brit74 (831798) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:37PM (#30347124)
    I think in general, people perceive that bolder, outspoken people are smarter - as if their boldness comes from understanding and knowledge. I also think that men (by virtue of testosterone) tend to be bolder than women. This get misperceived as intelligence, thus men are generally perceived to be more intelligent.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:04PM (#30347336) Homepage

    I have to wonder how much a person's self-esteem has to do with their self-perception. I usually don't think that people with externally-visible low self-esteem are terribly bright. People who are unable to address and/or deal with their inner troubles, for instance, get a very low rating with me. More commonly than not, these "frail" people tend to be women, in my experience (though there are certainly some strong ones). Kinda interesting looking at these observations in writing, and thinking back to how things "used to be" where women were considered the weaker sex - not as mentally bright, not as intrepid, etc. (Contrary to the status quo belief of the 'sexism' of yore, the 'weakness' of women was generally considered to be mental/emotional, not physical.)

    Also, testosterone (resulting in an more forward inner drive) probably has something to do with it, I imagine. If someone is driven, they are more likely to manifest their dreams, or to even have those dreams. From what I've seen, guys with more testosterone are not only more extroverted and have higher self-esteem, but also tend to accomplish more than their peers if they're the least bit intelligent.

    I've got two children - a daughter, 3, and a son, 6. I don't think my son is more intelligent than my daughter, and don't necessarily think the inverse is true, either. I'm unsure due to age and gender related development. I do know that my daughter tends to learn better: she listens more carefully, and is generally more attentive to what's being told to her. But she's also nowhere near as headstrong or driven as my son, either.

  • by FranTaylor (164577) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:14PM (#30347428)

    We don't even have a very good definition of "intelligence". How can you measure something when you can't even define it?

  • real reason (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kebis (1396783) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:26PM (#30347528) Journal
    I think the real reason men feel they're more intelligent than women can be summed up in two words: "Twilight Saga".
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:11PM (#30347944) Homepage Journal

    IQ tests can be biased and based on knowledge and wisdom instead of intelligence and potential to learn or think.

    For example people here on Slashdot, we are very good with computers and technology, we find managers and rich people are not as smart with computer as we are. But while we consider rich business people to be stupid, they find us to be stupid when it comes to business and business decisions just as we find them stupid when it comes to computers and technology decisions. The thing is that everyone is intelligent at at least one subject, maybe even more. Even if it is street maintenance that only an autistic person is good at, they are intelligent at that if nothing else because they really have a passion for street maintenance or whatever their interests are. Usually one is intelligent at their interests, and the average Slashdot readers are good at math and science and computers because of their interests, and the rich business people are good at investing, finances, accounting, and turning over a profit. The Dotcom busts showed us that when computer people try to run a business without any business classes or experience, they tend to fail just as bad as the business person who tries a computer business but lacks the computer knowledge.

    Men and Women have different interests and are intelligent at different areas. It even goes by political party as liberals are usually better in liberal arts and science than business management and accounting, while conservatives are better in business management, finances, and investing than liberal arts and science. I think it is the right brain verses the left brain, as people like me want to try and balance out the usage of the brain to use both sides.

    But my theory is that everyone is intelligent at least at something. The people that score low in IQ tests are usually smart at stuff the IQ test doesn't cover like NASCAR, the WWE/TNA Wrestling, TV shows and movie trivia, culture, traditions, social skills, etc. So one person's idiot is another person's genius so to speak.

  • I used to think I was smarter than most people. I thought I was very smart in fact.

    Now I think I'm above average 1/2 of the time.

  • Troll Bait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:51PM (#30348252)
    These kinds of articles are always just troll bait. We now live in a male bashing society that is constantly trying to show how men are not really smart, and that women are really the smart ones. I suppose that we can say that this one isn't so bad because at least it claims we are women's peers. While there very well may be an intelligence difference between men and women, there is enough environmental difference that one is unlikely to be able to find it even with the best of tests.

    The biggest factor is that if you take any group of people and split them into two groups. One gets taught that they don't have to provide for themselves, so anything they accomplish is just for their own gratification, and the other is taught that no one is ever going to hand them a free lunch, so they better figure out how they will support themselves, I think we can all figure out which group is going to end up smarter.

    It is made abundantly clear to very small children that men need to earn their livings, and women earn a living if they want to. Even in today's society, little girls are informed that they can marry/sleep their way into being supported. No doubt, there will be a certain percentage of people that will end up dumb even if they believe they will need to support themselves, and some people will end up smart even if they don't NEED to be. The reason that it appears that there are more smart men then women isn't because women are not given credit. It isn't because evil men keep them down. It is because the group of smart women consist of the women that WANT to be smart, and the group of smart men include the men that WANT to be smart combined with the group of men that feel they NEED to be smart for survival. It should be no surprise that you get better results from the group that needs it for survival.

    If women want to become men's intellectual peers, they need to start sleeping with men for their looks instead of their wallets. They need to make sure that starting at a young age, little girls are taught that they should pay for everything when they date men. Both young boys and young girls need to be taught that it is a woman's responsibility to financially support men, and that if a man supports them financially, the woman is a bum, and unworthy of being in a relationship.

    Get these ideas instilled in our youth, and you will see more smart women and fewer smart men.

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