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How Men and Women Badly Estimate Their Own Intelligence 928

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 LockeOnLogic ( 723968 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @06:56PM (#30346774)
    There are so many theoretical & methodological problems IQ testing. Any analysis with IQ scores as a data set in inherently flawed. Garbage in, garbage out.
  • by Scott Tracy ( 317419 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:17PM (#30346960)

    Actually he does - it's in the linked article, on the first page:

    "Although [men and women] are on average the same, the people at the very top and the very bottom of the IQ bell curve are more likely to be men."

  • 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 c_sd_m ( 995261 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:21PM (#30346976)
    From TFA: "Although [men and women] are on average the same, the people at the very top and the very bottom of the IQ bell curve are more likely to be men."
  • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:28PM (#30347048)
    Wasn't the point of the study. The perception bit was the interesting part.

    Also, if you ever made an accurate IQ test that showed one gender on top. It would never ever see the light of day.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 06, 2009 @07:35PM (#30347106)

    It is true that IQ has little bearing on the ability to lead or be a puppet (emotional and ethical characters) but it is most certainly not nebulously defined in the actual professional research community.

    It is roughly the primary principal component of performance scores among various types of skills, quantifying the notion that "if you do well on A B and C you have a higher than chance probability of doing well on D", and IQ is the measurement of how far you are on that axis. That this phenomenon exists and is scientifically repeatable is beyond a doubt.

    This is why things like "throwing a ball" are not part of IQ tests because research shows that the predictive correlation is negligible for that: "IQ" thus measures that group of performances in certain categories which vary together (probabilistically over large populations).

  • Re:Well (Score:2, Informative)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @08:15PM (#30347434) Homepage

    This image speaks for itself:

  • by HBoar ( 1642149 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:07PM (#30347918)

    Even the "wholesome" teenage role model Miley Cyrus has been reduced to pole dancing.

    I can't see how she was ever a "wholesome" role model. Even before she started dancing around half naked, she encouraged young girls to base their self esteem on good looks and their parents wealth.

  • by trouser ( 149900 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:08PM (#30347924) Journal

    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.

  • by The_mad_linguist ( 1019680 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:36PM (#30348148)

    ^ Deary, I.J.; Irwing, P.; Der, G; Bates, T.C. (2005). "Brother-sister differences in the g factor in intelligence: Analysis of full, opposite-sex siblings from the NLSY1979". Intelligence 35:451-456.

    There you go, have a citation for male IQ results having a higher variance than female.

    What, you want an online ref? Here's one about math tests []

    The neurological basis appears to be that males have more pruning during the final stages of brain formation. This can result in more efficient pathways, but has less redundancy.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) * on Sunday December 06, 2009 @09:57PM (#30348296) Homepage Journal

    Speaking of purposely obtuse - I did indeed write what haruharaharu said. My country is being invaded by illegal aliens, and so are most European countries. While our societies are preoccupied with gay marriage, women's rights, and assorted other narcissistic endeavors, Islam and Latin America are taking over.

    And, the navel gazer societies are impotent to stop them.

    Of course, impotence is fashionable in our countries today. No big deal though. Our descendants will likely become concubines, whores, and slaves to the descendants of the invaders. That's one way to pass on your genes, I guess.

    Try this story on for size: []

  • 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.

  • Re:Well, Duh (Score:2, Informative)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:05PM (#30348726)

    Nearly the entirety of biological evidence is against it being an artifact of culture.

    The evidence is not kind to your assertion. Women are getting taller every year -- and models are typically taller than the demographic they're targeting, at least in this country. Throughout history, the ideal of female beauty has changed -- at some points, the preference was for fat women, at other times, thin women. In victorian ages, it was cherubs (women with very rounded faces), whereas these days we prefer women with high cheekbones and a more angular face. In the 80s, androgyny was advocated.

  • by electrons_are_brave ( 1344423 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @11:46PM (#30348954)
    Here in Australia, we've never had a woman on the ticket of any of the major parties in a federal election, as far as I know. I don't know much about US politics, but when was the last time that the democrats or republicans ran a woman for president?

    In any case, I would never vote for someone just because they are a woman - look at Margaret Thatcher.

  • by DeadDecoy ( 877617 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:39AM (#30349272)
    Me specifically? No. But in terms of caffeine providing a general cognitive boost:

    Caffeine's effects on true and false memory.
    Capek S, Guenther RK.

    Sensitivity to change in cognitive performance and mood measures of energy and fatigue in response to morning caffeine alone or in combination with carbohydrate.
    Maridakis V, O'Connor PJ, Tomporowski PD.

    [The effects of energy drinks on cognitive performance] [Article in Dutch]
    van den Eynde F, van Baelen PC, Portzky M, Audenaert K.

    Just to name a few : P.
  • by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:30AM (#30349574)

    From Wikipedia:

    Assumption of female innocence or sympathy for women, which may result in problems such as disproportionate penalties for men and women for similar crimes,[5] lack of sympathy for male victims in domestic violence cases, and dismissal of female-on-male rape cases.

    The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex; Warren Farrell, Simon & Schuster, New York, 1993: ISBN 0-671-79349-7

    Martin S. Fiebert of the Department of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach, provides an annotated bibliography of over two hundred scholarly works which demonstrate that women and men often exhibit comparable levels of IPV violence.[30] In a Los Angeles Times article about male victims of domestic violence, Fiebert suggests that "...consensus in the field is that women are as likely as men to strike their partner but that—as expected—women are more likely to be injured than men."[119] However, he noted, men are seriously injured in 38% of the cases in which "extreme aggression" is used. Fiebert additionally noted that his work was not meant to minimize the serious effects of men who abuse women.

    The present analyses indicate that men are among those who are likely to be on the receiving end of acts of physical aggression. The extent to which this involves mutual combat or the male equivalent to “battered women” is at present unresolved. Both situations are causes for concern. Straus (1997) has warned of the dangers involved—especially for women—when physical aggression becomes a routine response to relationship conflict. “Battered men”—those subjected to systematic and prolonged violence—are likely to suffer physical and psychological consequences, together with specific problems associated with a lack of recognition of their plight (George and George, 1998). Seeking to address these problems need not detract from continuing to address the problem of “battered women."[120]

    Clearly, shelter houses full of battered women demonstrate the need for their continued existence. Moreover, outside of North American and Northern Europe, gender inequality is still the norm (Archer, in press). However, within those countries that have been most progressive about women’s equality, female violence has increased as male violence has decreased (Archer, in press). There is not one solution for every domestically violent situation; some require incarceration of a terrorist perpetrator, others can be dealt with through court-mandated treatment, still others may benefit from couples therapy. However, feminist inspired intervention standards that preclude therapists in many states from doing effective therapy with male batterers are one outcome of this paradigm. The failure to recognize female threat to husbands, female partners, or children is another (Straus et al., 1980 found 10% higher rates of child abuse reported by mothers than by fathers).
    The one size fits all policy driven by a simplistic notion that intimate violence is a recapitulation of class war does not most effectively deal with this serious problem or represent the variety of spousal violence patterns revealed by research. At some point, one has to ask whether feminists are more interested in diminishing violence within a population or promoting a political ideology. If they are interested in diminishing violence, it should be diminished for all members of a population and by the most effective and utilitarian means possible. This would mean an intervention/treatment approach based on other successful approaches from criminology and psychology.[121]

    The bulk of these arrests have been men being arrested for assaulting women. However, in the case of reciprocal violence, frequently only the male perpetrator is arrested

    Another study has demonstrated a high degree of acceptance by

  • Nurture vs Nature (Score:2, Informative)

    by friedfrank ( 1002913 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @01:40AM (#30349616)
    It appears that nature has a lot more to do with gender roles than society does: [] I couldn't believe it either, but monkeys seem to have the same toy preferences that little boys are girls do. Abstract:

    Sex differences in toy preferences in children are marked, with boys expressing stronger and more rigid toy preferences than girls, whose preferences are more flexible. Socialization processes, parents, or peers encouraging play with gender-specific toys are thought to be the primary force shaping sex differences in toy preference. A contrast in view is that toy preferences reflect biologically-determined preferences for specific activities facilitated by specific toys. Sex differences in juvenile activities, such as rough-and-tumble play, peer preferences, and infant interest, share similarities in humans and monkeys. Thus if activity preferences shape toy preferences, male and female monkeys may show toy preferences similar to those seen in boys and girls. We compared the interactions of 34 rhesus monkeys, living within a 135 monkey troop, with human wheeled toys and plush toys. Male monkeys, like boys, showed consistent and strong preferences for wheeled toys, while female monkeys, like girls, showed greater variability in preferences. Thus, the magnitude of preference for wheeled over plush toys differed significantly between males and females. The similarities to human findings demonstrate that such preferences can develop without explicit gendered socialization. We offer the hypothesis that toy preferences reflect hormonally influenced behavioral and cognitive biases which are sculpted by social processes into the sex differences seen in monkeys and humans.

  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:11AM (#30350054)
    If you plot the number of sexual partners, you'll find men have a curve that rises, peaks at around four (if I remember right), and then descends... a smaller number have had 8 partners, a still smaller 12, etc. It's a pretty normal distribution.

    The chart for females is shaped differently. It has a larger peak at a lower number than men (say, three), descends rapidly... but then flattens. When you get up to HIGH numbers of sexual partners (15, 20, 30), there are more females at that level than males.

    In other words, most women have fewer partners than men; but a small number of women have FAR more partners than most men.
  • by Whatshisface ( 1203604 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @03:30AM (#30350134)
    There's never been a woman who actually won the nomination for either the Democratic or Republican parties. Obviously the closest that anyone came was Hillary Clinton in 2008, who would have been President now (IMO) if Obama had not come out of nowhere. But I would think given how close she came, and that Sarah Palin is still a major draw (whatever her qualifications may be), it will not be too long before a woman becomes a major party nominee, or actually wins the election.
  • by bjourne ( 1034822 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @05:18AM (#30350660) Homepage Journal
    Read the article, see how they performed the study:

    ... examined scores from seven million students who took statewide mathematics tests from grades two through 11 in 10 states between 2005 and 2007.

    Which implies that they only sampled data from US students, which is frankly laughable when you want to make cross-culture statements about innate gender differences. American girls may very well be stupid because they were raised that way. A better study, in which data from all over the world was used is here:

    And their conclusion:

    Mertz and Hyde looked for evidence of this imbalance—more boys than girls at the extremes of math ability—in international data, too. Again, they found that in some countries as many girls as boys score above the 99th percentile, and in others more girls than boys are extreme math dunces or math geniuses. In both cases, countries with as many or more girls at the upper extreme tend to be those with the greatest gender equality, such as Germany and the Netherlands. If the greater male variability in math performance that Summers cited as an explanation for the low numbers of women among math geniuses is not ubiquitous across the world, then “the occurrence of greater male variability and scarcity of top-scoring females in many, but not all countries .. . must be largely due to changeable sociocultural factors,”

  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @06:16AM (#30350960)
    I never realised how badly Slashdot needed a "-1, Moron" mod until I read your post. If a man is hit by a woman, he's not a man unless he hits her back? The only power differential that counts is muscle-mass, not psychological or social factors? Leave off posting until you've finished growing up thanks.
  • by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:15AM (#30351158) Journal

    If being dumb was her only major fault, we'd still be married. Given the choice, definitely go for a smarter woman. She had other issues, too, like massive depression. Eventually she had other guys in her bed, and that's when I cut her loose. Some guys on slashdot would go for the open relationship, but that's not how I'm wired.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) * on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:20AM (#30351174) Homepage Journal

    General Eligibility Requirements for U.S. Citizenship

    To apply for U.S. citizenship, applicants must:

                Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400
                Have been lawfully admitted to the United States
                Have resided as a permanent resident in the United States for at least 5 years or 3 years if you meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen
                Have demonstrated continuous permanent residence
                Have demonstrated physical presence
                Have lived for 3 months in the USCIS district or state where the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400 is filed
                Demonstrate good moral character
                Show an attachment to the U.S. Constitution
                Be able to read, write, speak, and understand basic English
                Demonstrate a knowledge of U.S. civics (history and government)
                Take the oath of allegiance to the United States

    Please see the links on the right of this page to learn if you are eligible and how to apply for U.S. citizenship. []

    I beg to differ with you. We most definitely have a huge criminal element who comes here, with NO DESIRE to become citizens. Drug mules, money launderers, etc etc ad nauseum. Oh yeah, the human trafficers.

    But, aside from the worst of criminals - most of our 20 million ILLEGAL ALIENS became criminals by reason of having come here ILLEGALLY. The United States is, after all, a sovereign nation, which has the right and obligation to limit immigration. Millions are breaking the law by being here. Hence, criminals. We don't need no more criminals - we have more than enough.

  • by Velex ( 120469 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @08:26AM (#30351458) Journal

    Manipulating people into sleeping with you is a nasty, horrible thing to do

    The women here expect you to do this and won't go on a 2nd date if you don't.

  • Re:Troll Bait (Score:2, Informative)

    by plastbox ( 1577037 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:21AM (#30352554) Homepage

    God Sir, I applaud your insightful post even as I type to tell you how much I appreciate it (before it gets modded into oblivion as flamebait)!

    Women keep screaming and shouting about how Hollywood and pop culture in general creates an unhealthy image of what a woman should be (all driven by big, evil dirtbag men of course). What about the fact that this very same culture continues to support the view that men need to support their women and families, pay for dates, open doors and drive decent cars? As a man, I will never have the choice to be a stay-at-home dad. Assuming I make enough money though, it wouldn't be socially acceptable for me to refuse my future wife the choice of quitting her job to be a full time mom. If I don't make money and don't have a car, I am a bum and have roughly nill chance of getting, much less keeping a steady girlfriend. If a woman doesn't make any money though, it isn't just acceptable for her to be with a man who supports her, it would be considered perfectly normal.

    Hypocrisy much? Women didn't have much choice 50++ years ago; find a good man, raise and care for your family. Neither did men; get the best job you can and work your ass off to support your wife and family. What has changed for the better? Well, women can choose to work, or to stay at home. Women can do whatever the hell they like (even beating on or otherwise abusing their man) and no one will raise an eyebrow. Men, on the other hand, are still stuck with 1. Get an education. 2. Work until retirement or death to provide for your family.

    Goooo equality and equal rights!

  • by HertzaHaeon ( 1164143 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @10:54AM (#30352952) Homepage

    I've learned from my friends with other sexuals orientations that heterosexuality is very loud and very obnoxious. You just don't see it, because it's everywhere and it's normal. Going against this established norm automatically becomes obnoxious in some people's eyes, because it upsets the status quo and their narrow definitions of what's normal and acceptable.

    I suspect you're one of those people. Getting upset because a ficitonal character is portrayed as gay is pretty sad. Even worse, thinking that it's a sign of homosexual propaganda to kids is bordering on homophobic. Showing kids homosexuality is normal isn't mean just to let the homosexuals among them feel as normal as you and I do, but it's also for the heterosexuals and their views of homosexuals. They need to be taught that different sexual orientation is no different from race or ethnicity. You don't disciriminate and you don't hate because of it. It's not propaganda, it's basic education in being an enlightened human being and not a fearful, narrowminded bigot.

  • by bkr1_2k ( 237627 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#30354186)

    You're aware rape isn't about sex right? And men do get raped (by women, not just by other men.)

    Evolutionary pressure affects women the same way it affects men. It's your social upbringing in a "male dominated" society that makes you believe there is actually a difference. If you go out and actually talk to women, you'll find they have the same desires (sexually speaking) men do in almost all cases. The belief that there is some biological need for males to spread their seed while women don't have this urge is complete and utter nonsense.

  • Re:Well (Score:4, Informative)

    by StrategicIrony ( 1183007 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @04:38PM (#30357428)

    Fail? I'm sorry? You actually got a laugh out of me by using that word, in context of your post.

    I'm enjoying how you cherry picked out of Wikipedia without understanding what you're cherry picking, or even reading the rest of it.

    As far as social status... there's not a single study I can find supporting your claim.

    From about 10 lines below where you cherry picked YOUR quotation...

    The American Psychological Association's report Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns[9] states that IQ scores account for about one-fourth of the social status variance...

    ROFLMAO. It has almost as much predictive power of social status as your parent's tax bracket... which is to say "extremely high".

    Now, lets get to the quotation that YOU cited.

    You DO understand that in psychology, a 0.6 correlation is ALMOST UNHEARD of, it's so high? By statistical analysis, that means that fully 40% of "job performance" is directly predicted by a (usually childhood) Stanford-Binet IQ score. And as you stated "Job performance" is the most direct indicator of future income. Were you trying to claim this is "fail"? Seriously?

    The only numeric metric that correlates higher than IQ with future income is actually 8th grade standardized testing scores, which in several studies actually has around a .85 correlation, predicting over 70% of future income across a broad range of social and economic classes.

    I'll also happily point out that the only study coming up with the 0.2 number you cited was studying UNSKILLED LABOR jobs, where simply showing up to work was a stronger predictor of "job performance", yet IQ STILL had a statistically significant (though small) impact on job performance across all social spectra.

    And.... since we're quoting Wikipedia, I'll pull down some citations from the rest of the article that you conveniently decided not to quote. Note that Wikipedia doesn't cite very much of the research that's out there - it's just scratching the surface.

    According to Schmidt and Hunter, "for hiring employees without previous experience in the job the most valid predictor of future performance is general mental ability."

    Other studies show that ability and performance for jobs are linearly related, such that at all IQ levels, an increase in IQ translates into a concomitant increase in performance.[76] Charles Murray, coauthor of The Bell Curve, found that IQ has a substantial effect on income independently of family background.

    Wikipedia goes to great length to point out varying opinions, noting that ACROSS THE BOARD, for all job types, IQ generally is viewed to have a correlation of around 0.4 to 0.6 on average for skilled occupations. That's about the same correlation that "having unprotected sex one time with someone HIV positive" has with "getting HIV".

    Significant enough?

    While we're on the topic, the correlation between IQ and income actually goes up substantially as the worker gains more experience. So while it may be valid to say that "experience" is a more accurate predictor of job success and income, it's also accurate to say that IQ becomes MORE correlated with income as experience increases, which simply leads to the conclusion that people who score higher on IQ tests are able to grow their income as a faster rate than those who do not. Note, I'm carefully NOT calling these people "smarter", because IQ is just one sort of test, but it is a metric that DOES have a valid, strong statistical correlation with many things.

    But since I'm sure you've already decided to disagree with me, there are other things (like it or not) that IQ correlates with. This may have nothing to do with "being smart" but somehow, the test is a valid statistical indicator of these things.

    People with a higher IQ have generally lower adult morbidity and mortality. Post-Traumatic Stress Dis

  • by Lunzo ( 1065904 ) on Monday December 07, 2009 @07:45PM (#30359496)

    You're wrong about women in Australian politics. With the possible exception of Julie Bishop, none of them are stupid.

    Julia Gillard - current deputy prime minister.
    Julie Bishop - current deputy leader of the opposition.
    There are plenty of women in cabinet at the moment. Ministers are listed on the government website [].

    State politics
    In NSW the Premier and Deputy Premier are female. In QLD the Premier is female.

    Non-elected leaders
    The NSW Governor and the Australian Governor general are women. Both positions are not elected but are the figureheads of the state and the nation respectively and therefore the highest public office in each case.

God doesn't play dice. -- Albert Einstein