The Trouble with Bright Girls [link]

The Trou­ble with Bright Girls (ar­ti­cle @ the Huffing­ton Post)


My grad­u­ate ad­vi­sor, psy­chol­o­gist Carol Dweck (au­thor of “Mind­set”) con­ducted a se­ries of stud­ies in the 1980s, look­ing at how Bright Girls and boys in the fifth grade han­dled new, difficult and con­fus­ing ma­te­rial.

She found that Bright Girls, when given some­thing to learn that was par­tic­u­larly for­eign or com­plex, were quick to give up; the higher the girls’ IQ, the more likely they were to throw in the towel. In fact, the straight-A girls showed the most hel­pless re­sponses. Bright boys, on the other hand, saw the difficult ma­te­rial as a challenge, and found it en­er­giz­ing. They were more likely to re­dou­ble their efforts rather than give up.

The topic of this ar­ti­cle seems to re­late to sev­eral com­mon Less Wrong is­sues: the na­ture of hu­man in­tel­li­gence, and the gen­der im­bal­ance among LW read­ers.

I’m not sure how much cre­dence I give to the pro­posed ex­pla­na­tion of the differ­ence in mind­sets. It may well have to do with so­cial­iza­tion and feed­back, but the spe­cific de­scrip­tion of feed­back that is pre­sented seems a bit too much of a “just-so story” to me. The differ­ence it­self is fas­ci­nat­ing, though, and I hope more is done to fur­ther our un­der­stand­ing of it.