Even when men do well in social cognition tasks, they are not using the cognitive tools most naturally suited to that purpose

Sunday, February 16th, 2020

On average males have substantially better visuospatial skills than females — as evidenced by the Piaget water-level test and the bicycle-drawing test — while women have better social cognition. Bright men can compensate, as Charles Murray explains (in Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Race, and Class, based on Diane Halpern’s Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities):

Males are rarely good at both systemizing and empathizing. In contrast, these skill sets are largely independent in women.

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The same study found evidence that men apply systemizing skills to empathizing tasks. Put another way, even when men do well in social cognition tasks, they are not using the cognitive tools most naturally suited to that purpose.

Comments

  1. Kirk says:

    It might be interesting to take a long and hard look at assortative mating preferences. I’ve observed that women typically do not date or care to be around men who are what we might term “people-skilled”. If you want to be successful at the mating game, you have to conform to the usual male stereotypes, and if you don’t…? Good luck, because you’re going to need it to find a woman.

    I’ve got a friend who’s hetero as they come; however, this guy is doing what this piece suggests, applying male tools to the female realm of interpersonal relationships.

    It doesn’t work very well for him, because the women reject it–They say they want something, like a sensitive and emotionally accessible male, and the reality is, they pick that “bad boy” type every time.

    You look at things through a certain lens, and it sure starts to look like women are deliberately breeding and rewarding cads with sexual access, while men are breeding and rewarding big tits and vapid minds.

    The funny thing is, the least successful people I know at the “mating game” are all the ones that personify what the opposite sex claims they are looking for. The smart cute chick with good values? No dates. The “nice guy” with a good attitude and who works hard? No dates. The vapid bitch has scores of men seeking her company, and the caddish jerk has to scrape the women off his doorstep.

    Just goes to reinforce what I’ve always said: Never pay attention to what people say–Look at what they do.

  2. David Foster says:

    “The same study found evidence that men apply systemizing skills to empathizing tasks. Put another way, even when men do well in social cognition tasks, they are not using the cognitive tools most naturally suited to that purpose.”

    This is a little confusing. If someone is *lacking* a skill that is wired-in at the instinctual level, then the only way they can achieve it is by using the skills that they do have. Sort of like a computer that lacks a graphics board, but is still able to do the required graphical computations, although much more slowly.

    *Maybe* skills developed at the conscious reasoning level can, with practice, be transformed into almost-instinctual skills. For example, humans don’t naturally have the correct reactions to recover from an aerodynamic stall in an airplane. But with training, they can learn to make that recovery with almost-instinctual speed. (usually)

  3. Mike-SMO says:

    Yeah, but No. I had an intrigued prof way back. I was getting As in his Diffy-Q course but clearly “didn’t have a clue”. There was “something” going on.

    Perhaps along the lines of not smart enough to do it, but differentially smart enough to figure it out for exams (and still not “have a clue”.) Unfortunately, I didn’t “see” what was going on until later. I was smart enough, however, to avoid pushing toward a career with math at its core.

    Maybe just smart enough to remember things from lectures and homework that I could manipulate for exams. Now, gimme that banana.

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