January 28, 2012

Does socializing lower women's effective IQs?

That most authoritative source on all things scientific, the London Daily Mail, reports:
Researchers conducted a series of tests on groups of men and women with similar high IQ ratings. In the first set of tasks, the subjects were given basic puzzles to solve.  
Then they were each told how well the others in the group had performed before being given another series of similar tests. 
Once they knew the others were good at the tasks, the performance and IQ of both sexes dropped, but women's more significantly. 
Scans showed the part of the brain dealing with emotion increased in activity while that associated with problem solving decreased. 
The researchers, at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in the U.S., say the results suggest companies should develop strategies to get the most out of staff who may be 'susceptible to social pressures' in small groups.

This seems plausible to me. Young women studying alone do fine, as school and college grades show, but in groups, women tend to be more cooperative and less competitive than men, more concerned with everybody feeling comfortable, so they tend to turn down their cognitive levels.

This avoids the kind of problems I used to run into when socializing before the Internet gave me a better outlet for the corrosive side of my intellect. At a party, I'd start out popular because I knew enough about most things to be able to ask other guests intelligent questions about their personal field of interest. But I tended to get really interested in what they told me and kept asking questions, which at first they found flattering. But I'd eventually get carried away thinking about the topic and get to the point where I'd ask some extremely unsettling question that the other guest didn't want to think about at all (e.g., So, if the Efficient Markets Hypothesis that you studied at B-School is correct, how do you people in the stocks and mutual funds business add value?).

Very few women allow themselves to get close to committing these kind of faux pas in a social situations, which makes the world a more pleasant place.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

You might have Asperger's.

Anonymous said...

Not the women I've worked with Mr. Sailer. Eat you for lunch types.

Maya said...

Here's my problem with explaining away why someone performs poorly on tests, at work or in dance competitions: the person might be under performing for reasons other than low IQ or lack of talent, but he is still less competent than he needs to be. That is the problem with allowing people with proven ADHD get extra time on standardized tests. The test is supposed to measure performance, not ability. A kid who can understand difficult math concepts with ease at MIT, but can't complete tasks nor keep on schedule will be an incompetent student. If MIT coddles him and caters to his disability, he will become an incompetent engineer, even if his understanding of the subject is superb. I think the only ones whose differences should be accommodated are the rare geniuses who could revolutionize their fields, if only their colleagues would work with them on their terms.

So, if I were a CEO of a company that's hiring, this study wouldn't reassure me about women's cognitive abilities. It would let me know that women are less competent workers, even when they are as smart as their competition.

Anonymous said...

The Efficient Market Hypothesis is the most embraced yet unsound theory since the Lorentz Ether theory, that's why.

Charlesz Martel said...

Steve, I agree with you about the Internet being an outlet for the "corrosive" sides of some people's personalities. In fact, i think this helps make the world a better place. It used to drive me friggin' crazy when I had no outlet for screaming at the P.C. BS that's destroying this country. The knowledge that one is not alone, and that others see this, reassures people that they are not crazy, racist, or evil.

BTW- I've always wondered how the big trading firms, which hire people as stock and commodities traders, deal with the finance school graduates they hire. They've just been through a high-pressure school where the principle of the Efficient Market Hypothesis is drilled into their heads, and then they're taught that price (and volume) movements reflect "trends" which indicate which way the price is going, which means by definition that everything possibly known about the stock is obviously not known. And the obvious contradiction is never mentioned.

Over thirty years ago I looked into computerized option/warrant hedging strategies. I briefly mentioned this to Ed Thorp, the grandfather of all quants. He told me that he didn't believe the market was efficient.(I was a pro blackjack player at the time; a lot of those guys went into computerized stock analysis- Blair Hull for one). Thorp built a huge fortune on his superior analysis of the true value of options/warrants, and 30+ years later, the street and the talking heads still spout the same obviously false crap.

Jehu said...

Maya,
The rare genius can perform at a merely above average level even with serious roadblocks in their way. So I don't feel too bad about not 'accomodating' them. I always loathed the whole extra time accomodation back when I had to give it. How is ADHD a disability that we are obligated to make allowances for but a low IQ not so? I prefer to just let the chips fall as they may.

Anonymous said...

single sex schools with weekly chaperoned mixed line dancing ftw

"Not the women I've worked with Mr. Sailer. Eat you for lunch types."

the most competitive 10% of women are the most competitive 10%.

edgy gurl said...

"A kid who can understand difficult math concepts with ease at MIT, but can't complete tasks nor keep on schedule will be an incompetent student. "

Let's dissect Maya's argument. I'm sure there are plenty of 130+ IQ kids who might be diagnosed with ADD if the world were full of 130+ IQ people. It's not, however, so people with performance issues who are above average intelligence mostly don't get recognized as having a learning disability. This society mostly focuses on people who can't muster an average performance level; an extra half hour on the SAT isn't going to get anyone from this group into MIT. And if the problem is more like a dyslexic's inability to perceive written letters easily so they are just slower in reading rather than calculating, you shouldn't be complaining. They probably run rings around everyone else in understanding and responding to oral exam questions, i.e. like those for master's degrees. Also, wrt women, I sincerely doubt any company is structured so that all work becomes group work. Sailer's example has implications for meetings more than anything else. To compensate for a female's preference for group harmony, all else being equal, you could present questions about company performance or strategy prior to the meeting or give the chicks a few days to recover from their tantric state induced by interacting in a larger group. I assure you the shrewishness will out.

Miley Cyrax said...

Charlesz,

A solid understanding of the Efficient Markes Hypothesis for would-be arbitrageurs is instrumental in alpha-generation and risk management, lest hubris run wild.

Anonymous said...

"The Efficient Market Hypothesis is the most embraced yet unsound theory since the Lorentz Ether theory, that's why."

lol

Someone failed Econ 101. Someone mad.

Anonymous said...

I think staying power in the party world is a relatively rare trait. I don't mean staying without significant contribution. I mean contributing at a significant level 'til the bitter end. This may be a function of intelligence and alcohol-drug tolerance, among other predicting variables. I was always an early peaker, flash in the pan. The influence of "The Party" on the long-term evolution of some portions of the gene pool may be very interesting, indeed.
Neil Templeton

Whiskey said...

The weak form of Efficient Markets simply states that traded assets reflect PAST publicly available information. And that you cannot consistently over time generate above market returns on traded assets, on a risk adjusted basis.

So the answer is, analysts provide "future price" discovery as do most of the market, and allow through trading swapping or hedging of risk. A crude example being buying jet fuel futures for United Airlines.

In a large, complex, interconnected world, people want to trade off risks they don't want for risks they do; and want returns. Think the dollar will only go down as the Fed pumps more stimulus? If you want to hedge against losing value, you need that market and market makers. And researchers. EMH generally holds true in stable, large traded markets (example: T-bills in the 1990s). It can't predict Japanese Earthquakes, or Tsunamis, or phony investments by a fradulent board of directors.

Because of information asymmetry, you can beat the market if you have size advantage, research advantage, insider advantage, in places where volumes are thin and volatility high. That's basically Goldman Sachs playbook and now with both Dodd Frank and various suckers withdrawing from trading they're seeing revenue drops. Other guys like Drefuss and Cargill use extensive networks of insiders in say West Africa to predict cocoa harvests, or in the Midwest to trade off the most likely grain harvest. Which in turn allows Midwest farmers at least to hedge crops and provide producer stability.

Anonymous said...

RE EMH and adding value, at the big end of the market, there's very little added value (unless the manager can somehow convince clients to evaluate put writing as investment holding and use traditional metrics on them). Within the smaller niches of the market, there's far less evidence that strong form EMH holds.

rob said...

David Mamet said his dialog-writing improved when he realized that people don't talk to transmit information. They talk to get other people to do stuff. Lots of what financial types say is Mametian. Even if EMH were true, people can have all the info in the world, but if they have terrible models/theories, the "information" drives price the wrong way. Look at Berkshire Hathaway: When Ann Hathaway has a movie coming out, BH stock price goes up. Likely because various bots think count the times "Hathaway" comes up in the media presumably, with positive keywords, and the bots buy BH stock. The markets: as accurate as google ads!

Or look at Florida housing. Few years ago, every investor could have known Florida's demographics and diversity: how many do you think would have responded correctly to that information?

Anonymous said...

"This seems plausible to me. Young women studying alone do fine, as school and college grades show, but in groups, women tend to be more cooperative and less competitive than men, more concerned with everybody feeling comfortable, so they tend to turn down their cognitive levels."

No, I don't think "cooperative vs competitive" is the real issue. In this experiment, performance went down when people found out others were BETTER. Once people became conscious that others were smarter, they got nervous and less confident. This happens to most people. When talking to dumber people, you find yourself talking freely and smoothly. But when you're with smarter people, you begin to worry if they'll look down on you as stupid, and this leads to anxiety and it can make you tongue-tied and your mind can grind to a halt.

Same in athletics. A pretty good athlete playing with inferiors may feel confident and make all sorts of fancy moves. But if he's with much better athletes, he begins to feel small and finds himself performing even below what he's used to.

Due to the emotional nature of women, they may be quicker to lose confidence in the company of smarter or more talented people, more willing to submit to what seems like superior authority.

Steve Sailer said...

"In this experiment, performance went down when people found out others were BETTER."

Good point.

candid_observer said...

"In this experiment, performance went down when people found out others were BETTER."

That's not really what the experiment showed -- at least not as explained in the link.

The participants were all selected to be of the same high IQ (or, presumably, within some small threshold). They were all then informed as to how others performed.

Half would have performed average or better, pretty much by definition. Yet the average of the entire group decreased.

What's likely is that these were a bunch of smart people who were accustomed to being near the top in such tasks, but were intimidated when they found they were among a group in which they didn't excel. Sort of like being a HS valedictorian turning up at Harvard, and having to accommodate to a new reality of being average -- except, perhaps, that the study participants didn't know they were amongst an elite group, and so couldn't console themselves with the fact that they must have been wicked smart even to have made the cut.

Not clear to me how this is supposed to apply to most real life situations, except that women appear to be more easily crushed than men.

Matt said...

Kind of interesting in light of the countervailing research last year that the "group IQ" of a group trying to solve a problem together (I think Raven's Matrices showed some of the biggest differences) strongly positively correlated with social sensitivity and proportion of women.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19530-social-sensitivity-trumps-iq-in-group-intelligence.html

My guess would be that this kind of thing is very sensitive to group focus.

If the setup makes groups very focused on solving the problem together, then social sensitivity and extraversion helps (because they actually listen to one another and pay attention), but it's easy to sidetrack the socially sensitive and extraverted onto group dynamics and pro-social behaviour that doesn't actually help solve the problem or help ask the right question, in a way that the isolated and insensitive aren't vulnerable to.

Groups of people who are interested in other people's ideas, interested in meeting other people and actually listening to them when they meet them, not too interested or concerned about their or other people's status, don't take challenges to ideas as challenges to them as people (because they're otherwise secure in their persons and don't place all their pride in their nerdiness), yet are always trying to reach for a solution and don't buckle under pressure against their idea - that would seem like an optimal intellectual personality.

edgy gurl said...

"Due to the emotional nature of women, they may be quicker to lose confidence in the company of smarter or more talented people, more willing to submit to what seems like superior authority."

For some reason I always thought you were a woman. OK, let's use some anthro, evo-bio theory to explain this. Since the genders aren't specified, I'm assuming it's mixed. These women assume the smarter people are men and are content to play the submissive role in a relationship where the man might support them while they're hot & young & even after. Men!

Anonymous said...

"So, if the Efficient Markets Hypothesis that you studied at B-School is correct, how do you people in the stocks and mutual funds business add value?"

Because they drive the market towards efficiency. The efficient market hypothesis is an equilibrium result, once people have taken action.

David said...

Once while working for one of the Big Four auditors (tax division) I discussed the flat tax at work, persistently asking what was wrong with it in theory. Was told explicitly by my manager to zip it tight. "What did I get my degree for, if a flat tax comes to pass?" one female co-worker snarled at me. Don't ask questions - that's the lesson. Every question embarrasses someone. (Particularly in this society, right? Since it's built on a farrago of ... um, that is to say, have a nice day, everyone.)

David said...

>When talking to dumber people, you find yourself talking freely and smoothly. But when you're with smarter people, you begin to worry if they'll look down on you as stupid, and this leads to anxiety and it can make you tongue-tied<

No, it's easier talking with smarter people. It's talking with dumber people that's hard and anxiety-inducing. Those test-takers might be depressed because they accept the researchers' insinuation that test-taking is somehow gambling, and implicitly conclude that Lady Luck may have moved on. Or they may conclude that the researchers' evaluation methodology is arbitrary, i.e., biased. No one about to take a test should feel confident if the tester is bragging that another group impressed him. It's irrelevant information and implies favoritism.

Anonymous said...

rob:

David Mamet said his dialog-writing improved when he realized that people don't talk to transmit information. They talk to get other people to do stuff.

Do you have a cite for this?

Jacob Roberson said...

The girls at brainiac camp were all "I don't know giggle", "We couldn't figure it out giggle", when we were in the class with them. In sex-segregated groups they were, y'know, brainiac camp material. Their SATs would've gotten them into college already.

Anonymous said...

"Also, wrt women, I sincerely doubt any company is structured so that all work becomes group work."

but but women are teamplayers, and have a huuuuuuge advantage at that. That's what we've been listening for the past decade(s?)as a sorta USP for companies to hire them.

"Young women studying alone do fine, as school and college grades show,"

they study alone?

The study would suggest that classrooms make students brain-dead, and somewhat less brain-dead if everyone gets an A+.
Furthermore it suggests that women can have confidence and perform better in groups when they are told they are better, lending some venerability to "women can do it equally and sometimes better" position and more monies to get girls to perform better in science and maths too.

There has also been talk on how men overestimate while women underestimate their intelligence.

And wasn't there a huge brouhaha when studies found that girls weren't being talked to as much as boys in classroom and girls' self-esteem dropped once they hit puberty and started scoring lower? (That they start school with higher scores on standardized tests, and leave with lower. )

"but in groups, women tend to be more cooperative and less competitive than men"

and once out of groups women get more stressed than men and trip up on things like standardized tests?

Scipio Africanus said...

It sounds like you did the classic beta thing of making people really uncomfortable in social settings by acting weird and not sticking to the script of how party small-talk is supposed to go.

prawnster said...

"...I'd ask some extremely unsettling question that the other guest didn't want to think about at all (e.g., So, if the Efficient Markets Hypothesis that you studied at B-School is correct, how do you people in the stocks and mutual funds business add value?)."

Easy: facility. People in the stocks and mutual funds bidness bring together sellers of stocks/bonds and buyers of those securities, i.e., mutual fund clients. Left on their own, most people aren't capable of buying a balanced portfolio of stocks/bonds and thus put themselves at greater risk by going it alone.

I'm a b-school grad, and I wouldn't be unsettled in the least by your question.

prawnster