Summarizing the evidence for sex differences in cognition

In a previous post I examined the biological and social influences on sex and gender identity. Evidence suggests that biology plays a powerful role in the determination of sex as well as of gender identity, although social forces are also important particularly as they relate to gender role expression. In this essay I'll examine the evidence surrounding a related controversial topic: whether or nor there are cognitive differences between the sexes and, if so, whether they are biological or social in origin. In what follows, I'll focus on individuals whose gender identity matches their biological sex. This leaves out nonbinary and transsexual persons, about whom there is far less research evidence. Nevertheless, given that transsexuals tend to have hypothalamuses that match their identified gender not their biological sex, it would be interesting to know if this produces cognitive differences as...

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Richard Dawkins discovers his ideal idiom and audience

Some writers struggle for years to achieve a proper harmony in their work between style and substance. For some, that precious concinnity remains elusive till the end. So it is always something of a happy surprise when an author discovers his or her ideal idiom in the twilight of a long career. In a sense, Richard Dawkins has always been a writer of books for children — or, at any rate, for readers with childish minds — but not until now, it seems, has it occurred to him to write explicitly as a children's author. Tο this point, he has made a good living out of a relative paucity of gifts. As a third-tier zoologist, a popularizer of both scientific truths and pseudo-scientific speculations, and a tireless enemy of all religious beliefs (whether he understands them or not), he has...

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Want to change your life? Ditch New Year’s Resolutions for habit tracking

It's an age-old conundrum -- every time January 1st rolls around, millions of Americans set New Year's Resolutions, but by the time February rolls around, one third of us have abandoned every single one. So, if you want to make 2020 the year you finally organize your finances, get in shape or complete any other monumental task, you may want to forget New Year's Resolutions. Instead of writing down grandiose goals, turn your attention to your daily habits. What is habit tracking? Habit tracking -- the practice of monitoring the tiny things you do every single day -- helps you set small and achievable goals that add up over time to produce huge changes in your life. It's a powerful tool that will help you establish healthy habits that'll stick for years to come. Habits are so important because they...

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The ripple effects of expressing gratitude

A new study shows that expressing gratitude affects not only the grateful person, but anyone who witnesses it. Researchers studying gratitude have found that being thankful and expressing it to others is good for our health and happiness. Not only does it feel good, it also helps us build trust and closer bonds with the people around us. These benefits have mostly been observed in a two-person exchange — someone saying thanks and someone receiving thanks. Now, a new study suggests that expressing gratitude not only improves one-on-one relationships, but could bring entire groups together — inspiring a desire to help and connect in people who simply witness an act of gratitude. In this extensive study, Sara Algoe of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her colleagues ran multiple experiments to investigate how witnessing gratitude affects people's...

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