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Who is better at reading? Boys or Girls?


Everyone knows boys are better at math and girls are better at reading, right?

But wait, a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, showed that boys outscored girls on reading tests if they were told the tests were a game. Boys scored significantly lower than girls when told the tests were assessments of their reading skills.

The study was conducted in France. Four third-grade classes at three schools were evaluated.

The research involved 80 children, 48 boys and 30 girls, with an average age of 9.

The four classes received a silent reading test. Students were asked to underline as many animal names as possible in three minutes from a list of 486 words. Two classes were told the test was an evaluation of their reading abilities. Two classes and two were told it was a new animal fishing game designed for a fun magazine.

In the 2 classes which were told the test was a reading skill evaluation the boys had an average of 33.3 correct answers compared to 43.3 by the girls.

The other 2 classes had the opposite result. When told the test was a game the boys scored 44.7 correct answers, compared with 38.3 correct answers for girls.

Two major observations made by the researchers:

  • Boys underperformed girls when the task was presented as a test.
  • Simply reframing the task as a game led boys to outperform girls.



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