Cognition & Psychopathology

Two behavioral domains that show sizable average sex differences, and are often considered as outcomes in studies conducted in the lab, are cognition and psychopathology. Generally, boys and men have better spatial abilities (e.g., mental rotations) and exhibit more externalizing behaviors (e.g., substance use) than do girls and women, whereas girls and women have better verbal abilities (e.g., verbal fluency) and exhibit more internalizing behaviors (e.g., depressive symptoms) than do boys and men, especially after during and puberty. Of particular interest are the biosocial antecedents and conseqsmokinguences of individual differences in these gendered domains. For example, Dr. Beltz and her colleagues have shown that prenatal androgens have direct and indirect effects through male-typical activity interests on spatial ability (Berenbaum, Bryk, & Beltz, 2012), that a reward-related brain network underlying cigarette use is differentially predictive of nicotine dependence for men and women, partially owing to non-pharmacological influences (e.g., environmental smoking cues) on women’s smoking (Beltz, Berenbaum, & Wilson, 2015), and that different social mechanisms underlying the link between pubertal timing and depression for young men and women (Beltz, 2018).