Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

4th Edition

By Diane F. Halpern

Psychology Press – 2012 – 480 pages

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    September 21st 2011
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Description

The fourth edition of Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities critically examines the breadth of research on this complex and controversial topic, with the principal aim of helping the reader to understand where sex differences are found – and where they are not.

Since the publication of the third edition, there have been many exciting and illuminating developments in our understanding of cognitive sex differences. Modern neuroscience has transformed our understanding of the mind and behavior in general, but particularly the way we think about cognitive sex differences. But neuroscience is still in its infancy and has often been misused to justify sex role stereotypes. There has also been the publication of many exaggerated and unreplicated claims regarding cognitive sex differences. Consequently, throughout the book there is recognition of the critical importance of good research; an amiable skepticism of the nature and strength of evidence behind any claim of sex difference; an appreciation of the complexity of the questions about cognitive sex differences; and the ability to see multiple sides of an issues, while also realizing that some claims are well-reasoned and supported by data and others are politicized pseudoscience. The author endeavors to present and interpret all the relevant data fairly, and in the process reveals how there are strong data for many different views.

The book explores sex differences from many angles and in many settings, including the effect of different abilities and levels of education on sex differences, pre-existing beliefs or stereotypes, culture, and hormones. Sex differences in the brain are explored along with the stern caveat to "mind the gap" between brain structures and behaviors. Readers should come away with a new understanding of the way nature and nurture work together to make us unique individuals while also creating similarities and differences that are often (but not always) tied to our being female and male.

Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, Fourth Edition, can be used as a textbook or reference in a range of courses and will inspire the next generation of researchers. Halpern engages readers in the big societal questions that are inherent in the controversial topic of whether, when , and how much males and females differ psychologically. It should be required reading for parents, teachers, and policy makers who want to know about the ways in which males and females are different and similar.

Reviews

"The most exciting aspect of the new edition is its inclusion of recent research findings and theories on cognitive sex differences. … Halpern is a master teacher with expertise in critical thinking, and her book demonstrates a thoughtful combination of sex and gender considerations with critical thinking and scientific reasoning. … Could be used as a textbook or reference for a range of courses for advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students who are studying gender. … The relevance to real life and the author's accessible writing style would make the book a joy to read for anybody interested in how males and females differ cognitively, even for readers who are from a different cultural background." - Shen Zhang, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, USA, in PsycCRITIQUES

"Diane Halpern’s book addresses one of the hottest topics in science - the one that got Larry Summers in to so much trouble. Halpern reviews the relevant science to determine whether sex differences in cognitive abilities exist, and, if they do, what causes them. She presents this information in cogent, accessible prose. Psychology students will appreciate this excellent text as would anyone interested in what science has to say about the cognitive abilities of women and men." - Alice H. Eagly, Ph.D., Northwestern University, USA

"This new edition is engagingly written and makes complex concepts accessible to a broad audience. I know how difficult it can be to communicate this biopsychosocial perspective without being seen as a radical by those who want to claim that all sex (and individual) differences are biologically determined, and those who want to claim that all differences are due to environmental factors. I think that Diane Halpern navigates the middle ground of the interactionist perspective very well." - Mary Hegarty, Ph.D., University of California Santa Barbara, USA

"Since the first edition more than 25 years ago, Halpern’s book has been the 'go-to' source for a thoughtful, scholarly summary and reflection on sex differences in cognitive abilities. This new edition continues that tradition, and incorporates cutting-edge research from the field of neuroscience. Even more important, Halpern’s ability to make sense of these complex findings in an even-handed way is unsurpassed. This book belongs in the libraries of everyone with an interest in this field." - Judith E. Owen Blakemore, Ph.D., Indiana University, Purdue University, Fort Wayne, USA

"Diane Halpern’s writing style is engaging and humorous, while at the same time presenting rigorous scholarly work. The research presented is accessible, comprehensive, and up to date." - Patricia Puccio, Ed.D., College of DuPage, USA

"This new edition summarizes a complex area of research, navigates effortlessly between being politically correct and incorrect, and presents a framework that helps in the understanding of cognitive sex differences." -Agneta Herlitz, Ph.D., Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

Contents

1. Why Should We Study Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities? 2. Searching For Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. 3. Empirical Evidence for Cognitive Sex Differences. 4. Biological Hypotheses Part I: Genes and Hormones. 5. Biological Hypotheses Part II: Brains, Evolutionary Pressures, and Brain-Behavior Relationships. 6. Psychosocial Hypotheses Part I: Sex Role Stereotypes Throughout the Life Span. 7. Psychosocial Hypotheses Part II: Theoretical Perspectives for Understanding the Role of Psychosocial Variables. 8. Using a Biopsychosocial Perspective to Understand Cognitive Sex Differences.

Author Bio

Diane F. Halpern is the Trustee Professor of Psychology and Roberts Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. She is a past-president of the American Psychological Association, the Western Psychological Association, the Society for General Psychology, and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology.

Professor Halpern has won many awards for her teaching and research, including the Outstanding Professor Award from the Western Psychological Association (2002); the 1999 American Psychological Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching; 1996 Distinguished Career Award for Contributions to Education given by the American Psychological Association; the California State University’s State-Wide Outstanding Professor Award; the Outstanding Alumna Award from the University of Cincinnati; the Silver Medal Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education; the Wang Family Excellence Award; and the G. Stanley Hall Lecture Award from the American Psychological Association.