Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

Synopsis

In the third edition of her popular text, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities, Diane Halpern tackles fundamental questions about the meaning of sex differences in cognition and why people are so afraid of the differences. She provides a comprehensive context for understanding the theories and research on this controversial topic. The author employs the psychobiosocial model of cognition to negotiate a cease fire on the nature-nurture wars and offers a more holistic and integrative conceptualization of the forces that make people unique. This new edition reflects the explosion of theories and research in the area over the past several years. New techniques for peering into the human brain have changed the nature of the questions being asked and the kinds of answers that can be expected. There have been surprising new findings on the influence of sex hormones on cognitive abilities across the life span, as well as an increasing number of studies examining how attention paid to category variables such as one's sex, race, or age affects unconscious and automatic cognitive processes. Written in a clear, engaging style, this new edition takes a refreshing look at the science and politics of cognitive sex differences. Although it is a comprehensive and up-to-date synthesis of scientific theory and research into how, why, when, and to what extent females and males differ in intellectual abilities, it conveys complex ideas and interrelationships among variables in an engrossing and understandable manner, bridging the gap between sensationalized 'pop' literature and highly technical scientific journals. Halpern's thought-provoking perspectives on this controversial topic will be of interest to students and professionals alike. [features used for book mailer] FEATURES: *Includes new information about sex differences and similarities in the brain, the role of sex hormones on cognition (including exciting new work on hormone replacement therapy during menopause), new perspectives from evolutionary psychology, the way stereotypes and other group-based expectations unconsciously and automatically influence thought, the influence of pervasive sex-differentiated child rearing and other sex role effects, and understanding how research is conducted and interpreted. *Takes a cognitive process approach that examines similarities and differences in visuospatial working memory, verbal working memory, long-term acquisition and retrieval, sensation and perception, and other stages in information processing. *Provides a developmental analysis of sex differences and similarities in cognition extending from the early prenatal phase into very old age. *Tackles both political and scientific issues and explains how they influence each other--readers are warned that science is not value-free. *Uses cross-cultural data and warns readers about the limitations on conclusions that have not been assessed in multiple cultures. *Includes many new figures and tables that summarize complex issues and provide section reviews. It is a beautifully written book by a master teacher who really cares about presenting a clear and honest picture of contemporary psychology's most politicized topic.

Excerpt

What is the meaning of differences and why are we so afraid of them? These deceptively simple questions are at the heart of this book. Of course, females and males differ in some ways and are similar in others, but where are the differences and the similarities, and how can we make sense out of them? Perhaps there are even more fundamental questions that need to be asked first: Why is it important to know about differences? Are answers even possible given the many ways that belief systems bias the conclusions that we make and the decisions about what we want to know? All of these questions have a long and turbulent history entangled with beliefs about the appropriate roles of men and women and the political and economic ramifications of the way we answer them. The questions and answers are philosophical, empirical, political, historical, and interesting to large numbers of people both inside academia and in the real world that exists beyond the ivy curtain. Those opposed to research on sex differences fear that it will legitimize false stereotypes, obscure similarities, and provide fuel for those determined to convince the world of the inferiority of females or be used in ways that discriminate against males. As I write this preface, the new, repressive government in Afghanistan has forbidden all girls and women from attending school or working outside the home. I hope that this stunning act of discrimination will be history by the time you are reading this book. But, it does underscore an important reality, the potential for the misuse of information on cognitive sex differences is cause for concern; no wonder so many people are afraid of any research that examines group differences.

In writing about such a sensitive and politically explosive topic, I have tried to present the most recent findings along with some age-old questions about "maleness" and "femaleness" in as fair and unbiased way as possible. I wanted to go beyond the pop culture version of sex differences that is presented on talk shows and in the usual array of books found in many book stores to provide a reasoned and . . .

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