A 20-year longitudinal study has provided insight on how spatial ability also affect already gifted individuals’ major and job choice. From the study, it looks like spatial abilities, in addition to verbal and mathematical skills, also plays an important role, if not crucial, to one’s area of interest.
The result of the study is more than obvious and the conclusion can’t be more accurate. I 100% agree with the result of the study and in fact I am very excited by the result because it explains very well my personal choice of major. It also explains various other things I have observed which I do not want to go in detail.
Here’s the magical graph:
Let me explain it a little bit. The X axis is SAT-Math and the closer to 1.0, the higher the average SAT-Math score. The Y axis is SAT-Verbal and the closer to 1.0, the higher the average SAT-Verbal score. There is another dimension called DAT-C, which represents spatial and mechanical abilities. This dimension is denoted by arrows and the more it points right, the stronger the average spatial and mechanical skills tested.
As can be read the graph, Natural and Physical Science majors have the highest verbal and mathematical skills combined, with spatial abilities a lower than Engineering majors as well as Mathematical and Computer majors. Humanities and Social Science majors have the highest verbal skills and above average spatial skills. Mathematical and Computer majors, unsurprisingly, have the highest mathematical skills with verbal skills on par with Engineering and Medicine, and spatial abilities only second to Engineers. Engineers on average have the highest spatial abilities and this goes to an extreme for Electrical Engineers. Electrical Engineering majors distinguish themselves from all others by possessing highest spatial abilities as well as decent mathematical skills, but it should be noted that they scored second to last on SAT-Verbal test. The counterpart of Electrical Engineering majors is Law majors, whose spatial skills are the lowest. Business majors is found to do badly on all three tests in comparison, but I strongly suspect they have the best social skills.
We can derive from the graph that spatial skills is generally related to SAT-Math, but the relationship is not linear. My hypothesis is that math and science are definitely ‘helped’ by having strong spatial skills but the essential skill for them is quantitative analysis. In general, there seems to be a skill conservation. If we add the magnitude of three sets of skills together for every major, we can see that the results don’t vary much for Science, Math / Computer, and Engineering majors. So we can say, for example, Electrical Engineers ‘sacrificed’ lots of verbal skills for super spatial skills, while Humanities / Social Science majors dropped some mathematical and spatial skills in order to ‘gain’ super verbal skills. Unfortunately for Law, Medicine, and Business majors, this conservation does not hold true.
So what’s the conclusion? What did we learn from the study? Well, not much, only how our major and job choices are related to three sets of skills we possess. If you don’t like your major, I hope you get on the right track after learning this fact.