Empathizing and systemizing: What are they, and what do they contribute to our understanding of psychological sex differences?
Article first published online: 24 DEC 2010
2007 The British Psychological Society
British Journal of Psychology
Volume 98, Issue 2, pages 237–255, May 2007
How to Cite
Nettle, D. (2007), Empathizing and systemizing: What are they, and what do they contribute to our understanding of psychological sex differences?. British Journal of Psychology, 98: 237–255. doi: 10.1348/000712606X117612
- Issue published online: 24 DEC 2010
- Article first published online: 24 DEC 2010
- Received 14 December 2005; revised version received 1 May 2006
Empathizing and systemizing have recently been put forward as two important individual-difference dimensions, whose different mean levels in men and women are argued to account for many psychological sex differences. This paper presents a series of studies designed to investigate the reliability and validity of the empathizing and systemizing quotients (EQ & SQ), to relate them to existing personality constructs, and to replicate reported sex and sexual orientation-related differences. Correlations with interests and social behaviour suggest the two measures are valid. However, empathizing appears essentially equivalent to agreeableness in the five-factor model of personality. Systemizing cannot be reduced to established personality dimensions, though it is moderately correlated with conscientiousness and openness. Men have higher levels of systemizing than women, and non-heterosexual women higher than heterosexuals. However, no differences were found between heterosexual and non-heterosexual men. Although systemizing and empathizing account for a number of observed sex differences, there are others they do not explain.