News New Study: “Math Gene” a Myth
posted by October 20 at 11:39 AMon
It should come as no surprise that studies that conclude that girls are “genetically” predisposed to perform poorly at math are scientifically flawed: no one has been able to find a gene for monogamy, homosexuality, violence, sexual predation, or rabid consumption of video games and comic books. Nor have scientists been able to identify a “math” gene, much less isolate it to the Y chromosome.
Now, new research shows that mathmatical ability (or lack thereof) may be a self-fulfilling prophecy:
A report published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science showed that women exposed to theories saying females are genetically bad at math performed far worse on math tests than women who had not been exposed to such beliefs. […]
Psychologists Steven Heine and Ilan Dar-Nimrod, co-author of the Science report, studied how 220 female students performed in math tests after reading fake research reports—all entirely invented by the psychologists—with bogus claims about males being better at math.
One phoney paper claimed to have discovered that the Y chromosome, which only men have, gave males a five percent edge over females in mathematics. […]
Heine said the research clearly showed that women who read the fake report about genetics did much more poorly on the math test.
The research, he said, shows that people believe they can overcome stereotyping and continue to try. But if they blame their genetic makeup and believe they have an innate lack of ability, they give up, he said.
“People think genes are at the core of who we are,” said Heine, who with Dar-Nimrod teaches at the University of British Columbia here. “But much genetics research is still unproved,” he said in an interview with AFP, and “just raising the question about genes has harmful consequences.”
Often, said Heine, science about research on genes affecting gender, obesity or homosexuality is “grossly simplified” in media stories.
You don’t say.