Edge debate on sex, autism and engineering

baron-cohen.jpgThe latest issue of online science and technnology magazine Edge interviews Simon Baron-Cohen, author of the book The Essential Difference, on autism, engineering and sex differences.

The debate continues with contributions from eminent psychologists such as Stephen Pinker and Elizabeth Spelke.

Baron-Cohen is proposing his ‘Assortive Mating Theory’. He argues that ‘systemizing’, a tendancy to think in terms of rules, laws and systems, is more prevalent in some, particularly males, and is expressed as autism or Asperger’s syndrome in its extreme form.

The child of two systemizers is more likely to have this trait, both due to genetic and parental influences, and is therefore more likely to be on the autistic spectrum.

‘Systemizing’ is, unsurprisingly, associated with professions such as science and engineering. It is argued that this is more prevalent in males due to the biology of inheritance and fetal development.

An alternative trait is ‘empathizing’, supposedly more prevalent in females, which is a tendency to empathise with people’s feeling and intentions, and enjoy and understand the nuances of social situations.

Link to debate with Simon Baron-Cohen from edge.org
Link to article on Baron-Cohen’s work from wired.com
Link to online test to measure empathizing and systematizing.

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