We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Verbal vs. mathematical aptitude in academics

By Razib Khan
Dec 10, 2010 10:12 PMApr 12, 2023 1:48 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

It isn't too difficult to find GRE scores by intended major online. In reviewing articles/posts for my post below on anthropology I noted the distinction made between quant & qual methods, and aversions to regressions and scatter plots (or the supposed love of biological anthropologists for these tools). That got me wondering about the average mathematical and verbal aptitudes of those who intend to pursue graduate work in anthropology. I removed some extraneous disciplines which I don't think add anything, and naturally I created three scatter plots, quantitative score vs. verbal score, writing score vs. verbal score, and writing score vs. quantitative score.

I was more interested in the spatial relationships between disciplines. But, I was a but surprised by the low correlations between quant and verbal scores at the level of disciplines. On the individual level there's naturally some correlation. People who score very high in one are unlikely to score very low in another. That's why the variance in scores of a simple 10 word vocabulary test can predict 50% of the variance in general intelligence. In any case, here are the r-squareds:

quant-verbal = 0writing-verbal = 0.81writing-quant = 0.08

So 81% of the variance in writing scores on the scale of disciplines can be explained by verbal scores.

Some observations:

- Social work people have more EQ than IQ (this is not a major achievement because of the scale obviously).

- Accountants never made it into the "blue bird" reading group.

- Philosophers are the smartest humanists, physicists the smartest scientists, economists the smartest social scientists.

- Yes, anthropologists can read and write far better than they can do math.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.