Gender Differences In Cognitive Skills

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Cognitive Skills
In cognitive skills, the largest and most consistent gender differences are found in verbal, language, and certain spatial skills. For example, girls tend to produce words at an earlier age, have a larger vocabulary, and show a higher level of language complexity beginning in early childhood (Feingold, 1993; Halpern, 2000; Hyde & Linn, 1988). The biggest differences in verbal skills during school-age years—all favoring girls—are in spelling, overall language measures, and writing. Some of these gender differences seem to get smaller during adolescence, whereas differences in other areas (e.g., writing) remain (Halpern, 2000). These differences have remained relatively stable over 30 or more years of research. Differences in other specific skills tend to be small, and some have decreased in recent decades (Campbell, Hombo, & Mazzeo, 2000). Clear and consistent gender differences favoring males exist for some spatial skills such as mental rotation (the ability to visualize how an object would look if you viewed it from a different angle). Differences in these areas emerge at around 9 to 13 years and widen throughout adolescence. Like the verbal skills we discussed above, gender differences in mental rotation
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Girls often receive ratings from others, and evaluate themselves, as more helpful, cooperative, and sympathetic than boys, but their actual behavior is not consistently different from that of boys. However, girls are more likely to seek and to receive help than are boys, and some studies indicate that girls are more easily influenced than boys (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1998; Ruble & Martin, 1998). When attempting to influence others, boys are more likely to use threats and physical force. Girls tend to use verbal persuasion or, if that does not work, simply to stop their efforts to influence the other person (Serbin, Moller, Gulko, Powlishta, & Colburne,
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