Conclusions from the Study of Gender Differences in Cognition

Richardson, John T. E. (1997). Conclusions from the Study of Gender Differences in Cognition. In: Caplan, Paula J.; Crawford, Mary; Hyde, Janet Shibley and Richardson, John T. E. eds. Gender Differences in Human Cognition. Oxford University Press, pp. 131–169.



This chapter discusses the kinds of analytic techniques that have led to conclusions concerning differences in the cognitive performance of men and women. It begins with a description of the derivation of different measures of effect size and the potential hazards in using meta-analytic techniques. In turn the likelihood of biases occurring in the publication of research, in the sampling of participants, and in the sampling of test items, and the issue of the possible heterogeneity of research studies, especially with regard to their methodological quality are assessed. The chapter examines the arguments that the use of meta-analysis tends to constrain researchers in their choice of research questions, and that meta-analytic techniques constitute a “package” or technology that encourages a positivist, realist interpretation of gender differences in cognition. Nevertheless, the conclusion that the ideas, arguments, and evidence lead to a rather different, constructionist interpretation, and that as a consequence future research into gender differences in human cognition will need to address a wider range of research questions using a wider range of research methodologies is presented.

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