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Cognitive Sex Differences: Evolution and History

David Becker and Heiner Rindermann


We add results from studies in Germany and Brazil supporting Lynn’s theory on cognitive sex differences and their development. We show that there are associations between hormonal transitions during adolescence, especially in women, and increasing sex differences in cognitive abilities, particularly spatial ability, during adolescence. We suggest that such maturation-related changes make sense from an evolutionary perspective, as cognitive and ecological specializations of the sexes, with the benefit of increasing group fitness due to differentiation of social gender roles. However, historical and cultural change has reduced male-favoring gender differences in education and in many cases reversed them. Together with changes in the job market this has modified formerly stable sex differences.

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