A team of researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway has analyzed the results of 168 studies on gender differences in ‘verbal fluency’ and ‘verbal-episodic memory’ . Verbal fluency is a measure of one’s vocabulary, while verbal episodic memory is the ability to recall words one has encountered in the past.
Experts found that women are better at finding and remembering words than men. The women were undoubtedly better . The female advantage is constant over time and lifespan, but it is also relatively small,” said Marco Hirnstein , co-author of the paper published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
“Until now, the focus has been mainly on the skills that men excel at. However, in recent years attention has shifted more towards women,” say the authors.
The researchers carried out a ‘meta-analysis’ of the combined data from all the doctoral theses, master’s theses and studies published in scientific journals that they could find. It encompassed data from more than 350,000 participants taken over the last 50 years.
“Both male and female first authors reported better performance for participants of their own gender,” the authors wrote. “Future studies should investigate publication bias and first/last author effects on cognitive abilities in that men/boys tend to excel at, for example, mental rotation. This has been largely ignored until now.”
The researchers believe their results could help improve diagnostic tests that examine these verbal abilities, such as dementia.
“We propose that female advantage arises from an intricate interplay of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors, ” the experts conclude.
Reference: Hirnstein, M., Stuebs, J., Moè, A., & Hausmann, M. (2022). Sex/Gender Differences in Verbal Fluency and Verbal-Episodic Memory: A Meta-Analysis. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/17456916221082116