Sex Differences in General Knowledge

Posted May 10th, 2010 at 12:56 pm.

Liz Hong

Mentor: Anjali Thapar

Intelligence is a frequently researched topic in the field of psychology. The predominant model of intelligence found in the literature describes intelligence as having two subcomponents: fluid intelligence (Gf) and crystallized intelligence (Gc). Fluid intelligence is often described as reasoning ability—this form of intelligence is necessary for such tasks as solving algebraic equations and an individual’s Gf deteriorates during later life. Crystallized intelligence is involved in acquiring and maintaining a broad vocabulary and in ability to learn new foreign languages; unlike Gf, Gc remains mostly stable throughout an individual’s adulthood.

Both fluid and crystallized intelligence are further divided into their own subcomponents. Of particular interest to this research is a subcomponent of Gc known as general knowledge. General knowledge is roughly defined as information that is disseminated to the public via multiple means of media (examples domain of general knowledge are: music, sports, general science concepts, history, etc.). Although the overall construct of intelligence has been a research focus for many decades, general knowledge received minimal attention until recently. In the past several years the research on general knowledge has indicated that, like other aspects of intelligence, sex differences exist within this subcomponent: males significantly and substantially outperform females on tests of general knowledge. One study found that these differences were not accounted for by bias in the tests used to measure general knowledge (such that the questions might favor males) or by “differential experience” (due to different environments during childhood). Yet, no possible cause for this phenomenon has been found or put forth.

Therefore, the current research seeks to replicate the findings of previous studies while utilizing a different test from that found in most of the literature. Additionally, a major goal of the experiment will be to gain insight into what variables lead to this disparity in general knowledge between males and females.

Filed under: 2006,Hong, Liz,Thapar, Dr. Anjali by Ann Dixon

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