Individual differences in cognition – Agneta Herlitz’ research group

Individual differences in cognition – What sex differences are there in cognitive abilities and how can they be explained? Is the risk of dementia influenced by the cogntive ability in childhood?

Individual differences in cognition

Agneta Herlitz’ research on sex differences in psychological capacities and behaviors has the overarching aim to describe and explain these differences but also to understand the potential impact they have on society and everyday life. Currently, the group addresses questions such as what is the origin or the explanation for sex differences in cognition and behavior? Most reported sex differences in cognition and behavior are small, have vastly overlapping distributions, and cannot differentiate well between females and males, but is it possible to identify consistent patterns of cognitive skills and behaviors that constitute meaningful sex-typical profiles? Can such sex-typical profiles provide an understanding of why there are large sex differences in some life outcomes, such as career choices? Questions along this line are investigated with data collected from behavioral studies, the Swedish registries, and physiological measures (e.g., MRI, biomarkers).

Research projects

  • Do we need to bother about small sex differences in cognition and behavior? Is it possible to explain these recurring differences? 

    Swedish Research Council

  • Revisiting the basic questions: The origin of cognitive sex differences 

    Swedish Research Council

Selected publications

Asperholm, M., Högman, N., Rafi, J., & Herlitz, A. (2019a). What did you do yesterday? A meta-analysis of sex differences in episodic memory. Psychological Bulletin, 145, 785-821. 10.1037/bul0000197

Dekhtyar, S., Weber, D., Helgertz, J., & Herlitz, A. (2018). Sex differences in academic strengths contribute to gender segregation in education and occupation: A longitudinal examination of 167,776 individuals. Intelligence, 67, 84-92.

Dekhtyar, S., Wang, H. X., Scott, K., Goodman, A., Koupil, I., & Herlitz, A. (2015). A life-course study of cognitive reserve in dementia. From childhood to old age. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 23, 885-896. 10.1016/j.jagp.2015.02.002

Fellman, D., Bränström, R., & Herlitz, A. (2021). Revisiting a basic question: Does gender-typed early environment affect sex differences in academic strengths and occupational choices? Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 8, 221. //

Herlitz, A., Hönig, I., Hedebrant, K., & Asperholm, M. (2024). A systematic review and new analyses of the gender-equality paradox. Perspectives on Psychological Science. 10.1177/17456916231202685

Strandqvist A, Herlitz A, Nordenskjöld A, Örtqvist L, Frisén L, Hirschberg AL, Nordenström A. (2018). Cognitive abilities in women with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome and women with gonadal dysgenesis. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 98, 233-241. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2018.05.003

Weber, D., Skirbekk, V. Freund, I., & Herlitz, A. (2014). The changing face of cognitive gender differences in EuropeProceedings of the National Academy of Science, 111, 11673-11678. 10.1073/pnas.1319538111


Gender differences in memory.


Selected publications