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Friday, July 6, 2018

Men "Strongly Agree" They Are Smarter Than Average

In Lake Wobegon, the small fictional rural town in Minnesota that serves as the setting of Prairie Home Companion, “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

Of course, statistically, only half
of the population can be above average on any aspect. Yet, it seems that one human universal is the idea that most people believe they are above average. Being smart seems like something important to most people, so what about human intelligence?

Now, a new study just published in PLoS ONE by researchers Patrick R. Heck, Daniel J. Simons, and Christopher F. Chabris, used two nationally representative samples, telephone polling and online (total N = 2,821), to conclude that “a tendency to overrate one’s cognitive abilities may be a stable feature of human psychology.”

They asked people in their surveys whether they agreed with the statement “I am more intelligent than the average person.”


Overall, the researchers found that almost two thirds (65%) of Americans believe they are more intelligent than the average person. They also uncovered that the more educated people were, the more likely they were to agree with the statement, and that younger people were somewhat more likely than older people to agree with the statement.
There was also a gender difference: Men were much more likely that women to agree that they were above average. In the telephone survey, 71% of men compared to 59% of women agreed with the statement, and in the online survey, 72% of men compared to 60% of women agreed with the statement. Men in particular were more likely to “strongly agree” with the statement, and it was found that the primary driver of the male-female difference was men choosing to “strongly agree” that they were more intelligent than the average person.

ABOUT AUTHOR 
Jonathan Wai, Ph.D., is a psychologist, writer, and research scientist at Duke University.

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