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Sex Roles

, Volume 64, Issue 5–6, pp 336–347 | Cite as

Beliefs About Cognitive Gender Differences: Accurate for Direction, Underestimated for Size

  • Diane F. Halpern
  • Carli A. StraightEmail author
  • Clayton L. Stephenson
Original Article

Abstract

Although stereotype accuracy is a large, and often controversial, area of psychological research, surprisingly little research has examined the beliefs people have about gender differences in cognitive abilities. This study investigates the accuracy of these beliefs in a sample of 106 highly educated U.S. adults. Participants provided estimates of male and female performance for 12 cognitive tasks and games. These estimates were compared with published data on gender differences on the same 12 cognitive tasks and games. Results showed that participants were generally accurate about the direction of gender differences, but underestimated the size of gender differences.

Keywords

Gender differences Stereotype accuracy Beliefs about gender differences 

Notes

Acknowledgement

We thank Dr. Gabriel Cook, at Claremont McKenna College, for his comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this paper.

We thank the students in the graduate course on Cognitive Sex Differences at Claremont Graduate University for their assistance with data collection.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane F. Halpern
    • 1
  • Carli A. Straight
    • 2
    Email author
  • Clayton L. Stephenson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyClaremont McKenna CollegeClaremontUSA
  2. 2.School of Behavioral & Organizational SciencesClaremont Graduate UniversityClaremontUSA

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