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Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Gender Differences In Mental Rotation.

Essay by 24  •  October 30, 2010  •  823 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,279 Views

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Abstract

In this experiment gender differences in a spatial task called mental rotation was analyzed. Participants were told to verify if the images they were presented with were the same or not. The response time was recorded and analyzed. In previous studies men have outperformed women by having faster response times. In this experiment women had faster response times, however, it was not significantly different.

Gender differences in spatial ability tasks have been researched extensively. To have spatial ability is to have the capacity to maintain, produce, retrieve and transform well structured visual images. Spatial ability tests are seen as measures of practical abilities that are useful for predicting success in technical occupations but not as measures of reasoning abilities. A type of spatial test is mental rotation, which is the ability to rotate a visual image in the mind. Shepard & and Metzler (1971) found that the response time increased as the degree of rotation increased. More studies have been done analyzing the interaction between other factors and spatial ability. Levine, Vasilyeva, Lourenco, Newcombe and Huttenlocher (2005) looked at the effect socioeconomic status and gender have on one's mental rotation ability. Their results show that socioeconomic background had an effect on performance and gender did not. In Halari, Hines, Sharma and Kumari's study (2005), they tested gender and individual differences and how they impacted on cognitive performance. Subjects were exposed to mental rotation along with many other tasks. They found that there was a significant gender difference when it came to spatial task performance. Men were more accurate; however there was no significance when it came to response latency. In this study, we attempt to see if there was a gender difference on performance.

Methods

Participants

Twenty- four native English speaking college students took part in this experiment as part of their Cognitive Psychology lab. There were twelve males and twelve females who were between the ages of 18 and 22.

Materials and Apparatus

Pentium 4 processors were used to run ConStats software program Copyright 1997 Tufts University and Prentice Hall, Inc.). This software presented twenty eight three dimensional images side by side (two at a time), at seven different degrees of rotation 0, 30, 60, 90, 120, 150 and 180. Participants were asked to compare the two images and record whether the figures were the same.

Procedure

Three participants took the experiment at each sitting. On screen instructions were given where the participants were told to respond as quickly as possible. They were given practice trials and then did the actual experiment which took approximately 10 minutes. The experimenter was present throughout the experiment.

Results

The data collected consisted of response times for accurate responses. Table 1 shows the mean response

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