ASU study: Men think they’re smarter

The Arizona Republic - - Front Page - Rachel Lein­gang

Men are more likely to think they’re smarter than their class­mates, while women of sim­i­lar in­tel­li­gence see them­selves as less so, ac­cord­ing to a new study of a large class of bi­ol­ogy stu­dents at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity.

The study, au­thored by Kate­lyn Cooper, Anne Krieg and Sara Brownell, was pub­lished this week in the jour­nal

Ad­vances in Phys­i­ol­ogy Ed­u­ca­tion. The au­thors gauged stu­dents’ “aca­demic self-con­cept,” or how they per­ceive them­selves and their abil­i­ties.

The au­thors con­ducted a sur­vey of about 200 stu­dents in an up­per-level phys­i­ol­ogy class, ask­ing them to com­pare their in­tel­li­gence to the rest of the class and to the stu­dent in class they worked with most closely.

Stu­dents who weren’t na­tive English speak­ers also were less likely to think that they were smarter than their class­mates, and na­tive English-speak­ing stu­dents were more likely to per­ceive

“It’s a mind­set that has likely been in­grained in fe­male stu­dents since they be­gan their aca­demic jour­neys. How­ever, we can start by struc­tur­ing group work in a way that en­sures ev­ery­one’s voices are heard.” Kate­lyn Cooper Study au­thor

they were smarter than their class­mates.

On av­er­age, men were “sig­nif­i­cantly more likely” than women to be­lieve they were smarter than their class­mates, the study said.

The study pre­dicts that the av­er­age man with a 3.3 grade-point av­er­age would be­lieve he’s smarter than 66 per­cent of stu­dents in the phys­i­ol­ogy class. The av­er­age woman with the same GPA would per­ceive she’s smarter than only 54 per­cent of the other stu­dents.

Men also were more likely than women to think they were smarter than their group mates, de­fined by the study as the per­son in class they work with most closely.

When con­trol­ling for all other vari­ables, in­clud­ing aca­demic abil­ity, the study found men were 3.2 times more likely than women to think they were smarter than their group mate.

All of this mat­ters be­cause stu­dents who have a higher aca­demic self-con­cept likely will par­tic­i­pate more in class dis­cus­sions, and that helps peo­ple learn bet­ter, the au­thors con­cluded.

The study re­sults may mean in­struc­tors should work to make sure par­tic­i­pa­tion in class is more eq­ui­table so all stu­dents have a chance to con­trib­ute, the au­thors wrote.

The study’s au­thors told ASU Now that these self-per­cep­tions may mean fe­male stu­dents de­cide not to pur­sue sci­ence be­cause they don’t think they’re smart enough.

Cooper, a doc­toral stu­dent at ASU who helped au­thor the study, also told ASU Now that the prob­lem won’t be easy to fix.

“It’s a mind-set that has likely been in­grained in fe­male stu­dents since they be­gan their aca­demic jour­neys,” Cooper said. “How­ever, we can start by struc­tur­ing group work in a way that en­sures ev­ery­one’s voices are heard.”

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