Survey shows changing attitudes about women's intelligence

Research we're watching

Published: November, 2019

Are men or women smarter? A recent analysis, published online July 18 by American Psychologist, shows that a majority of Americans (86%) polled in 2018 think men and women are equally intelligent. But among those who see a difference, 9% gave the edge to women, compared with only 5% who think men are smarter.

The results are a far cry from public opinion polls conducted in the 1940s, when a majority of Americans thought that men were the smarter sex, and only 36% thought that men and women were equals when it came to brains. These figures were compiled using 16 different, nationally representative, public opinion polls conducted from 1946 to 2018.

Other questions on the surveys asked respondents to rate men and women on other traits, including compassion, sensitivity, ambition, and aggression. While perception of women's intelligence changed over time, people today rated other traits much the same as they did in the past. Women were, and still are, viewed as more sensitive and compassionate then men, and men as more ambitious and aggressive.

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