Gender Differences in Self-Estimated Intelligence: Exploring the Male Hubris, Female Humility Problem

Front Psychol. 2022 Feb 7:13:812483. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.812483. eCollection 2022.


Despite evidence from cognitive psychology that men and women are equal in measured intelligence, gender differences in self-estimated intelligence (SEI) are widely reported with males providing systematically higher estimates than females. This has been termed the male hubris, female humility effect. The present study explored personality factors that might explain this. Participants (N = 228; 103 male, 125 female) provided self-estimates of their general IQ and for Gardner's multiple intelligences, before completing the Cattell Culture Fair IQ test as an objective measure of intelligence. They also completed the Bem Sex Role Inventory (BSRI) as a measure of sex-role identification, and measures of general and academic self-esteem. Both gender and sex-role differences were observed for SEI, with males and participants of both genders who scored high in masculinity offering higher self-estimates. By comparing estimated and observed IQ, we were able to rule out gender differences in overall accuracy but observed a pattern of systematic underestimation in females. An hierarchical multiple regression showed significant independent effects of gender, masculinity, and self-esteem. Mixed evidence was observed for gender differences in the estimation of multiple intelligences, though moderately sized sex-role differences were observed. The results offer a far more nuanced explanation for the male hubris, female humility effect that includes the contribution of sex role identification to individual and group differences.

Keywords: education; gender differences; human intelligence; self-esteem; self-estimated intelligence; sex differences; sex-roles.