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On average, men tend to start earlier, perform better, and persist longer than women in the chess domain. Similarly to several other domains, such as those related with STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), women are highly underrepresented in the chess domain. The marked difference in the amount of men and women participating in chess, has led to the assumption that the differences in chess performance between men and women is due to a statistical effect derived from the differences in participation rates. In contrast, other findings suggest that men might have an innate advantage or better predisposition for chess playing, enhanced by certain cultural factors. Some differences in the chess playing of men and women that have been reported in relatively recent studies are also highlighted. The chapter closes by presenting a statistical analysis that compares sex differences in chess performance at different levels of practice, which suggests factors other than practice as the underlying causes of these sex differences.
Human intelligence is one of the main broad domains of interest in individual differences research. Moreover, it is a common believing that playing chess well implies a high level of intelligence. Whether chess players are more intelligent on average than the general population is another recurrent question that has elicited a considerable body of research. The scientific evidence about these topics, however, remains largely inconclusive. The chapter describes first the main models and approaches about the scientific study of human intelligence. The studies about the relation of intelligence with chess playing are organized by splitting the available evidence obtained from children and adults. The final section in the chapter includes novel empirical findings comparing chess skill and chess motivation in the prediction of chess performance, suggesting that non-cognitive traits might be also influential for chess performance.
This chapter outlines the main tenets of differential psychology, a research field that addresses individual differences in behaviour and its relevance for central realms such as health, education, and work. The chapter revolves around three main themes. First, it describes the characterization and appraisal of individual differences. Second, it emphasizes the considerable individual variability in the factors and processes involved in playing and mastering chess, with a focus on the intelligence-as-process, personality, interests, and intelligence-as-knowledge theory (PPIK) as an optimal starting point to conceptualize and examine individual differences. Third, the chapter addresses the compelling debate about the heredity versus environment dichotomy to explaining complex human intellectual behaviour, while highlighting its theoretical significance for the development of chess expertise.
This chapter reviews the use of chess in business, health, and education. In business, chess has been used with educational purposes, and as a model to evaluate game-theory aspects of the game. In health, there are applications of chess to address problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), neurodegenerative disorders, or schizophrenia. In education, chess has become widely used as a pedagogical method thought to entail education al benefits for languages, mathematics, concentration, self-control, or the development of socio-affective competences. Some recent studies suggest significant higher levels of academic performance for schoolchildren and adolescents into chess-based teaching or who practice chess on a regular basis, when compared with students uninvolved in chess playing or chess instruction. Another set of studies, however, question the purported benefits of chess training for formal education. According with this latter point of view, there are both conceptual and methodological concerns that hinder in a great extent the available evidence about the association of chess training with academic achievement. Two of these issues relate with the transfer of abilities across domains, and with the concept of statistical power, which are addressed in greater depth within this chapter.
The availability of objective quantitative measures of a player’s chess strength makes chess an optimum field to study individual differences. While several indicators quantify accurately chess skill, the Elo rating system is by far the most popular and worldwide-accepted chess skill indicator. Every chess player participating regularly in rated tournaments holds an Elo rating, a dynamic indicator that depends on the outcomes in the games played within a given time period considering the Elo rating of the opponents. The chapter provides an in-depth description of the Elo chess rating system, while highlighting valid alternatives such as the Universal rating system (URS). The quantitative rating of chess skill has been used in a variety of studies addressing relevant topics in several fields of psychological research, which are summarized within the Appendix 1 of the book.
Most empirical studies about chess have taken the happenstance of the cognitive or experimental paradigm within psychology. In this chapter, the past main research findings from this approach will be reviewed together with their contribution to psychological science. The chapter is structured into three main subsections, perception, memory, and thinking. Each of these sections describe more specific themes such as information processing models, eye movements, theories of memory in chess, and thinking methods such as pattern recognition and search. The main conclusions from this extensive body of research are summarized through the prism of the individual differences approach.
This chapter argues why chess has become an interesting domain to address topics of interest for individual differences research. Furthermore, it summarizes the most robust available evidence to date by outlining the key findings while suggesting some tentative and potentially promising steps for advancing the psychological research focused on chess as a model domain.
This chapter begins by highlighting that the two main disciplines of psychology, experimental and correlational, are complementary for the study of human behaviour and suggesting chess as a suitable model for psychological research while taking into account the crucial role of individual differences. A very brief description of the structure, aims, and psychological attributes needed to play chess follows, which serves to remark the considerable variability in these attributes amongst human beings. The chapter closes by providing a concise overview of the rest of the chapters.
The game of chess has provided a proper domain to study central psychophysiological mechanisms underlying basic psychological processes such as stress, emotion, or decision-making. This chapter describes the studies about the psychophysiology and brain functioning of chess players mostly involving the application of electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance, or positron emission tomography, even though it reports about findings analyzing other issues such as cardiac and hormonal responses, and the topic of doping in chess. In addition, the chapter addresses three central themes in the study of the brain of chess players: the activation of cerebral cortex areas, the hemispheric specialization, and the anatomical changes.