Psychological Profiles of the Mathematically Talented: Some Sex Differences and Evidence Supporting their Biological Basis

  1. Gregory R. Bock Organizer and
  2. Kate Ackrill
  1. Camilla Persson Benbow and
  2. David Lubinski

Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

DOI: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch4

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability

How to Cite

Benbow, C. P. and Lubinski, D. (2007) Psychological Profiles of the Mathematically Talented: Some Sex Differences and Evidence Supporting their Biological Basis, in Ciba Foundation Symposium 178 - The Origins and Development of High Ability (eds G. R. Bock and K. Ackrill), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470514498.ch4

Author Information

  1. Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011-3180, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 SEP 2007

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471939450

Online ISBN: 9780470514498

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Keywords:

  • sex differences;
  • mathematically talented;
  • psychological profiles;
  • hormonal influences;
  • bodily conditions;
  • medical conditions

Summary

For over 20 years, above-level testing with the College Board Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has been used to assess the abilities of well over 1 000 000 highly able 12–13-year-olds (students in the top 3% in intellectual ability). In this population, the predictive validity of the mathematical part of the SAT, SAT-M, for academic and vocational criteria has been demonstrated over 10-year gaps. Here, we document aspects of the psychological and achievement profiles of these highly able students, paying particular attention to sex differences. Males score higher on SAT-M (i.e., mathematical reasoning ability) than females; this difference is accompanied by differences between the sexes in spatial–mechanical reasoning abilities and in a number of lifestyle and vocational preferences. Collectively, these attributes appear to play a key role in structuring male–female disparities in pursuing advanced educational credentials and careers in the physical sciences. After profiling a number of the behavioural characteristics of the highly able, we examine some underlying biological correlates of these phenotypic manifestations. These include hormonal influences, medical and bodily conditions and enhanced right hemispheric activation.