Relationships Between E-S Theory, Theory of Mind, Ability Tilt, and College Major Preference Controlling for General Intelligence
The present study sought to understand the relationships between college major preferences and four measures of cognition that are weakly related to general intelligence (g): (1) E-S tilt, the within-subject difference in empathizing (E) strategies which identify, predict, and respond to mental states and systemizing (S) strategies which analyze a system using set rules; (2) ability tilt, the within-subject difference in SAT/ACT math and verbal scores; (3) theory of mind (ToM), the ability to attribute independent mental states and processes to another person; and (4) college major preference for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) or humanities. Analyses controlled for a measure of g, the International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR). We predicted that S tilt, math tilt, and STEM majors would be related based on the assumption that these tap rule-based processes. We also predicted that E tilt, verbal tilt, ToM, and humanities majors would be related based on the assumption that these tap empathy and non-rule-based processes. We also examined whether ability tilt mediated the relationship between E-S tilt and college major preference. Consistent with prior research, E-S tilt and ability tilt correlated with college major preference, with S tilt and math tilt predicting STEM majors and E tilt and verbal tilt predicting humanities majors. However, E-S tilt did not correlate with ability tilt. Furthermore, ability tilt did not mediate the relationship between E-S tilt and college major preference. The thesis concludes with a discussion of limitations of the study and suggestions for future research.