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rhollerith_dot_com comments on Experiential Pica - Less Wrong

81 Post author: Alicorn 16 August 2009 09:23PM

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Comment author: rhollerith_dot_com 18 August 2009 07:58:21PM *  0 points [-]

Hugh Ristik links to a Wikipedia article on the constellation of skills called systematizing. The article definitely implies that individuals better than average at systematizing are worse than average at empathizing. Does anyone have any theories on why being skilled in one decreases the probability of being skilled in the other?

The only theory I can think of that seems to fit the facts is that the child's natural human desire to learn the empathizing skills is stronger than the desire to learn systematizing skills, but since learning the empathizing skills tends to depend on many neurological and cognitive developmental events going right, some children stop being able to continue to learn empathizing, so they turn to systematizing because learning something is better than learning nothing.

(This theory does not mean that it is certain or even very likely that adults strong in empathizing are more useful to modern society than adults strong in systematizing, but it does mean that it is very likely that adults strong in empathizing enjoyed higher reproductive fitness in the EEA.)

Comment author: HughRistik 18 August 2009 08:14:02PM 0 points [-]

I recommend reading up on Simon Baron-Cohen's work. His theory is that systemizing is related to cognitive masculinization, e.g. through prenatal testosterone and other biological developmental factors (leading him to suggest that people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome exhibit an "extreme male brain").

Richard Lippa has also found that an important dimension of personality is orientation towards things (which corresponds to systemizing) or orientation towards people (which corresponds to empathizing). His research claims that the people-things dimension of interests is correlated with gender (males being more thing-oriented and females being more people-oriented on average), and independent of the Big Five personality traits.

Comment author: Douglas_Knight 19 August 2009 12:03:05AM 0 points [-]

In a paper linked off of wikipedia SBC says When you plot these, five different “brain types” are seen but at the end says It may be that there is a degree of trade-off between E and S, such that the better one is at one, the worse one is at the other.

The last sentence doesn't leave me with a lot of confidence that he actually has plotted them. A first bit of evidence for that claim would that he published such a plot. or at least a correlation coefficient. Has he actually done so?