Friday, June 17, 2011

Human capital mongering: M-V-S profiles

The figure below displays the math, verbal and spatial scores of gifted children tested at age 12, and their eventual college majors and career choices. This group is cohort 2 of the SMPY/SVPY study: each child scored better than 99.5 percentile on at least one of the M-V sections of the SAT.

Scores are normalized in units of SDs. The vertical axis is V, the horizontal axis is M, and the length of the arrow reflects spatial ability: pointing to the right means above the group average, to the left means below average; note the arrow for business majors should be twice as long as indicated but there was not enough space on the diagram. The spatial score is obviously correlated with the M score.

Upper right = high V, high M (e.g., physical science)
Upper left = high V, lower M (e.g., humanities, social science)
Lower left = lower V, lower M (e.g., business, law)
Lower right = lower V, high M (e.g., math, engineering, CS)

Because of the selection criteria I wouldn't be surprised if the SDs are large in this population. Many of the SMPY qualifiers could have relatively average V scores and vice versa for SVPY. So the variation between the highest and lowest scores in each ability could be larger than in the general population.


MtMoru said...

No surprise, physicists and chemists are the smartest of the smart. But what about geologists?

sykes.1 said...

Geologists are as dumb as a box of rocks.  Extreme lower left.

Anonymous_IV said...

I'm actually wondering about where the musicians fall here.

TheGuyFromEarlier said...

Definitely depends on the genre.  And based on that wide range (rap, classical, electronica, etc), there may not be any particular proportion or magnitude of M/V associated with musicianship.  (A lot of it probably dictated by the profile of your audience.)  Musicality is probably another dimension altogether that is shaped in some way by one's relative proportions and magnitudes of M/V, as well as other nebulous factors.

Just a hunch.  

E.g., I wouldn't think of Kanye West as having a particularly high M or V. Yet I somehow stumbled onto his latest album on a random indie radio station, and I was genuinely impressed--it synthesized a lot of strains of indie music into something newer and different.  

On the other hand a guy like Sufjan Stevens comes off as someone who is high on both M/V scales (combined with solid emotional perceptivity + creativity).  (Heck, his bro went to Harvard graduate school of design, and he went to the Julliard school.)  Sufjan has composed classical music, folk music, electronic--all at high quality.  One gets the sense that he both intuitively and intellectually understands music at a fundamental level, allowing him to shift between genres.  

Side note: one of my favorite videos--the Marcus Roberts Trio (African American jazz band headed by stereotypically blind piano frontman) playing George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra:   Just really fascinating to watch.

NicolasBourbaki said...

Apparently, basic bayesian fallacies are not covered in GRe prep courses as well...

Kevin Babcock said...

The apparent migration of science majors to business occupations is interesting.  It could be driven by limited opportunities in science fields, or by financial incentives to do business.

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