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Empathizing-systemizing in the profession

Researchers from the Experimental Psychology Department of the University of São Paulo (USP) analyzed information on students with an average age of 21 who registered for college entrance exams in the human, exact and biological sciences from 1980 to 2015. The data were analyzed and compared to those obtained in a questionnaire completed by 573 undergraduate students. In the study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, they confirmed what was already suspected: in the last 35 years, areas in the exact sciences attracted more men, while more women showed interest in human and biological sciences.

They also analyzed whether a theory known as empathizing-systemizing was related to the choice of profession. The theory, developed by British psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen, assumes that there is a cognitive type that is more characteristic of the female gender (empathizing), and the other is more typical of the male gender (systemizing). To evaluate the concepts, he developed scales of empathizing and systemizing. In the study, researchers determined that empathizing was more prevalent in girls, while there was more systemizing in boys.

The concept of empathy is related to areas that involve social interactions by professionals, as in medicine, business, etc. Systemizing is a person’s ability to predict a system’s behavior based on its rules, and it is more closely linked to areas such as engineering, computer sciences and chemistry. The results, according to the researchers, reinforce the importance of cognitive types as one of the factors related to the choice of a college major.