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"brain sex" questionnaire


EQ: 42 ("on average, men score 42 and women score 47")
SQ: 31 ("on average, men score 30 and women score 24")
My brain type is B (E=s).

If males are supposed to have a brain type of S and females a brain type of E, I guess that makes me "androgynous."

Criticism of this test:

They say, "A key feature of the theory is that your sex cannot tell you which type of brain you have. Not all men have the male brain, and not all women have the female brain. The central claim of this new theory is only that on average, more males than females have a brain of type S, and more females than males have a brain of type E."

It's very misleading to call these differences "male" and "female" brain types if they aren't overwhelmingly connected to other physical/biological sex attributes.

The book connected to this test is called "The Essential Difference," by Simon Baron-Cohen. But if the brain-type tendencies are not overwhelmingly related to physical sex attributes and are only true "on average," then "essential" is a really poor way to describe them.

(In other words, if you ask me what the "essential" biological difference is between males and females, I'll be much more likely to say "Y chromosomes" or "reproductive organs" than "slight differences in how men and women tend to handle social situations and process information.")

The X-Y axis where you plot your EQ and SQ scores to get your brain type is...just...weird.

And of course this theory (that women tend to be intuitive, empathic, and social; whereas men tend to be data-oriented and interested in how things work mechanically) can be used to uphold the current social order where people- and care-taking oriented work is considered less important and is thus less well paid (or, more often, not paid at all) and data oriented / mechanically oriented work is considered more important and thus more highly paid. It can also be used to keep women out of the data oriented / mechanically oriented work because "hey, we know women aren't good at it" and to subtly pressure girls and women away from any interest they might have in systematic thought.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 6th, 2004 11:59 am (UTC)
I had an SQ of 71 (very few women score this high), and an EQ of 21 (autistic is 20). Brain type, extreme S.

I'm not sure what the point of it is, but I found the questions hard to follow because so many of them were randomly phrased in the negative.

I'd have to say that my test results indicate something, if only because they're so extreme. But I'd have to agree with you that conflating these tendencies with gender differences is inappropriate.
Apr. 6th, 2004 12:06 pm (UTC)
Re: Score
The 71 makes sense, but you don't seem like an unempathic person to me, so the EQ doesn't make sense. I don't know how you feel about social situations, though. My social anxiety tendencies affected my EQ scores.

Yeah, the questions were annoying.
Apr. 6th, 2004 12:19 pm (UTC)
I have very little difficulty in social situations where the majority of the people are strong rationals. For example, I had a delightful time at Pycon, and chatted up a storm.

I have huge difficulty in situations where the people are mostly strong feelers. They're always asking me questions which are rude or trivial or prying. I can do it for a while, especially if I know the people well, but it can take me years to get to know someone like that, and the process is hard slogging.

As you may guess, I don't date, and I'm very fortunate I found someone to be with who tolerates me pretty well. I tend to be very slow making new friends.

I've found meditation helps a lot with social anxiety (and other kinds of anxieties as well).

Funny thing, I'm very comfortable with who I am, and when I can organize my life so I don't do things that I'm poor at, I can get a lot of stuff done that is quite special.
Apr. 6th, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Score
Makes sense.

As might be apparent from my scores, I have trouble having comfortable conversations with groups of either strong rationals or strong feelers. The former tend to be too brusque and usually the conversation is more technical than I can participate in. The latter tend to be too, in your words, "trivial or prying." I can listen to any group, though, and I usually enjoy doing so (in small doses). I can also have a short conversation with an individual of either type, and adjust to an individual or group that is in my life a lot.

My anxieties are within tolerable levels when I take Prozac. Before that, meditating helped but only while I was doing it; as soon as I was done, the anxiety came back.

Seeing the sudden shift that the drug brought about ("oh! now I understand why some people LIKE parties!") taught me a lot about myself and personality in general.

IMO, smart people who have any kind of self-awareness and problem-solving mode are bound to go toward accepting who they are, avoiding things they don't like and focusing on things they like.
Apr. 6th, 2004 01:45 pm (UTC)
EQ: 34
SQ: 36

I guess that means I'm not a man or a woman... I'm a person. What a surprise. *beats quiz with a stick*

"When I look at a painting, I do not usually think about the technique involved in making it." This was true... until I started painting. Now I'll get really up close and squint at paintings to see the brushwork and detailing.
Apr. 6th, 2004 03:02 pm (UTC)
Re: heh
Get away! There are no persons. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.

I am fascinated by how things are made and I love getting up close to paintings, even though I don't paint. I also stand back and look at the pretty pictures!
Apr. 6th, 2004 02:06 pm (UTC)
Aside from the Britishisms ("maths", for instance, and "carrying out DIY"), both tests seemed silly. There's the flaw of asking people to figure out for themselves how emotionally aware they are, for instance. I've read something on the general uselessness of EQ tests where the subject only reports on his/her own performance; basically, lots of people think they know what other people are thinking and are wrong. And then the notion that sports = systemic thinking? Hmmm. Or that any of these things have a jot to do with brain chemistry? Grrr. Why do they even call it "male" or "female" brain when they seem to recognize that the delineation has nothing to do with sex?

But it was entertaining. Apparently, I have no preference, and am both unable to read a map (24 SQ) and completely unsympathetic (21 EQ). The latter might be true, but the former is not.
Apr. 6th, 2004 03:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, I was thinking about the self-reporting aspect of the quiz. When people are asked to respond with how "something" they are, they are being asked to compare themselves to others. They'll probably compare themselves to people they know, rather than to all people.

I can read a map just fine, but I am very very slow at it. If I were being actually tested on my map reading skills against other people, I'd probably score poorly. But map reading is usually a matter of using the map to get somewhere. I know I'm slow at it so I take my time and I do just fine.
Apr. 6th, 2004 09:42 pm (UTC)
EQ 49, SQ 42.

Last time I took the test, about a year ago I think, my EQ was lower and my SQ was higher.
Apr. 6th, 2004 10:31 pm (UTC)
I score highly in both, ergo I have two brainz! WoOot!

No, you're right, this is riven with conceptual flaws. How unsurprising that yet again something trite supports the conservative image of human existence, eh?
Apr. 7th, 2004 12:07 am (UTC)
I have a B brain -- I scored 63 on EQ, 50 on SQ. Which is consistent with the last time I took the test.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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