Men Likelier Than Women to Say They're Smarter Than Peers

April 6, 2018

Is intelligence a state of mind, dependent on gender? A new study in Advances in Physiology Education involving students in an undergraduate biology course says men see themselves as smarter than women do, even when they share the same grades. Researchers at Arizona State University asked students in the class to compare their intelligence with that of their classmates in general, and with one person with whom they worked closely in the course. Male students were 3.2 times more likely than women to say they were smarter than their partners, the paper says. A male student with a 3.3 grade point average is likely to say that he is smarter than 66 percent of his classmates, while a woman with the same GPA is likely to say she’s smarter than 54 percent of her peers, based on an advanced analysis. 

Researchers also found that students were more likely to report participating in class more than their partner if they had a higher academic “self-concept.” The findings “suggest that student characteristics can influence students’ academic self-concept, which in turn may influence their participation in small-group discussion and their academic achievement in active learning classes,” the paper says, especially as more and more biology courses move away from lectures to active learning. Non-native speakers of English also reported lower levels of academic self-concept than native speakers.

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