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A Quantitative Exploration of Gender Identity as a Potential Predictor for the Empathetic and Systematic Thought Processes of a Child

Hazledine, Tonisha (2019) A Quantitative Exploration of Gender Identity as a Potential Predictor for the Empathetic and Systematic Thought Processes of a Child. Manchester Metropolitan University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The sex differences amongst human beings have roused a vast scope of psychological research, evaluating their contribution to abilities, behaviour and cognition. Baron-Cohen (2002) offered a new context to these differences, suggesting that the female brain is driven by empathy, whilst the male brain is driven by systemising, even as a child. The present study looks to explore whether gender identity – masculinity or femininity – can be used to predict the empathetic and systematic thought process of children, more accurately than biological sex alone. The Combined Empathy and Systemising Quotient (Baron-Cohen et al., 2009) was administered to 121 parents of a 3 to 7-year-old child, alongside the Pre-School Activities Inventory (Golombok and Rust, 1993), establishing a score of empathy, systemising, masculinity and femininity. These variables, alongside age and biological sex, were subject to a series of analyses, each assessing their potential influence on the cognition of a child. Ultimately, the analysis highlighted an inability to significantly predict empathy scores using each of the variables presented. A similar pattern was revealed for systemising, with the presentation of age as the only significant predictor of systemising scores. The effectiveness of the research is discussed, alongside its place in informing future studies.

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