What is it about?

Males as a group have a more positive intellectual self-image than females (who typically underestimate or downplay their intelligence). This study explores why, and finds that gender differences in self-esteem as well as masculine/agentic personality traits may help explain this phenomenon.

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Why is it important?

When girls undervalue their intelligence in high school, they tend to choose less challenging course content (especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM), which then places limits on their course selection in college and university. Women who undervalue their intelligence and men who overestimate it may in part explain the gender gap in wages and bargaining power with employers. As parents, and educators, we need to lift the aspirations of girls higher if they are to go on to solve the complex problems our society faces and be paid a comparable wage to their male peers.


I've always been fascinated by the reasons why boys and men tend to overestimate their intelligence relative to women, and in the power of self-fulfilling prophecies. If you think you can't, you won't. Wouldn't it be nice if as educators we could build the confidence of girls and young women to a comparable level, where they believe in themselves and are free of those doubts?

David Reilly
Griffith University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Gender Differences in Self-Estimated Intelligence: Exploring the Male Hubris, Female Humility Problem, Frontiers in Psychology, February 2022, Frontiers,
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812483.
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