Friday, January 13, 2006

Well, at least my brain is balanced.

I picked this up from Mark Lindner over at . . .the thoughts are broken. . . . I finally took some time to read the article from The Guardian and do the quizzes. Mark asks if he is normal. The tests are based on the work of Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, and they measure your Empathy and Systemising Quotients. From the article:

Baron-Cohen's theory is that the female brain is predominantly hard-wired for empathy, and that the male brain is predominantly hard-wired for understanding and building systems. He calls it the empathising-systemising (E-S) theory.

Empathising is the drive to identify another person's emotions and thoughts, and to respond to these with an appropriate emotion. The empathiser intuitively figures out how people are feeling, and how to treat people with care and sensitivity.

Systemising is the drive to analyse and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern the behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems.

My results were as follows. On EQ, I scored a 46. According to the article, this means I fall within the range of those who have an average ability for understanding how other people feel and responding to them appropriately. I know how to treat people with care and sensitivity. Most women score about 47 and most men about 42. I was not surprised by this. I think I needed to score like this given the type of work I do. I am willing to bet that a lot of professionals in caring and nurturing professions such as teachers, nurses, doctors, and social workers would score on this range or probably higher. On my SQ, I scored a 23. This falls within the average range, on the low side (the average range is 20-39). According to the article, this means I have an average ability for analysing and exploring a system. Systemizing is the drive to analyze and explore a system, to extract underlying rules that govern behaviour of a system; and the drive to construct systems. On average women score about 24 and men score about 30. On the SQ test, I found some of the questions interesting. I think in terms of systems, it really depends on what it is is. For instance, they asked if I would read a legal document closely. I strongly agreed with that, but only because I believe only a fool would not read any legal document closely. Maybe it is the cynic in me who knows they'll catch you on the fine print if you let them. On the other hand, I really don't care much for auto mechanics (a car's inner workings) or computers. They asked questions such as if I felt a need to know a car engine's performance (other than does it give good gas mileage, and is it reliable, no) and the insides of a computer (no. All I want to know is does it do what I need it to do. Sure, I understand concepts like memory and speed, but as a layman). As long as they work, that is all I really care about. I just want to know enough to understand them and not get ripped off by the IT person or the car mechanic or car saleman (again, the cynic in me), but I don't have the male gene that triggers excitement over muscle cars (for instance, this latest Urban Assault Vehicle does not excite me one bit) or the biggest baddest gaming computer (I consider myself informed enough to know how a computer works, some troubleshooting, and what it can do, but I am no IT guy nor have any interest to be one in spite of what some librarians may advocate). When it comes to systems, I guess it depends on the system if I am interested in fully knowing it or just knowing enough.

So, where does this place my brain? Well, based on the plot, I have a Type B or "balanced brain." This is the type for individuals who are equally strong in their systemising and empathising. Well, Mark compared a little to a different and much less scientific test on sex roles. I took that test too, my results are here. It turns out I was pretty balanced on that one as well. At any rate, this new set of tests seemed a bit more useful in helping look at myself. I did find it interesting that both the one for fun and the more "serious" one yielded similar results. Anyhow, maybe readers want to try it out for themselves and see what they learn. Now, if I can just balance a few other things. . . .

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