Confidence mediates the sex difference in mental rotation performance.

Department of Marketing, Bocconi University, Via Roentgen 1, 20136, Milan, Italy.
Archives of Sexual Behavior (Impact Factor: 3.53). 12/2011; 41(3):557-70. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-011-9875-5
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT On tasks that require the mental rotation of 3-dimensional figures, males typically exhibit higher accuracy than females. Using the most common measure of mental rotation (i.e., the Mental Rotations Test), we investigated whether individual variability in confidence mediates this sex difference in mental rotation performance. In each of four experiments, the sex difference was reliably elicited and eliminated by controlling or manipulating participants' confidence. Specifically, confidence predicted performance within and between sexes (Experiment 1), rendering confidence irrelevant to the task reliably eliminated the sex difference in performance (Experiments 2 and 3), and manipulating confidence significantly affected performance (Experiment 4). Thus, confidence mediates the sex difference in mental rotation performance and hence the sex difference appears to be a difference of performance rather than ability. Results are discussed in relation to other potential mediators and mechanisms, such as gender roles, sex stereotypes, spatial experience, rotation strategies, working memory, and spatial attention.

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    Frontiers in Psychological and Behavioral Science. 01/2013; 2:73-88.
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    ABSTRACT: Mental-rotation tasks usually induce large gender differences in favor of males. The influence of task features and stereotype activation on the mental-rotation performance of elementary-school children has rarely been investigated. This study examined the performance of 272 fourth-grade boys and girls in a psychometric mental-rotation task varying implicit gender-stereotype activation (threatening vs. non-threatening task framing) and rotational axis (picture-plane vs. in-depth rotations). Children's gender stereotypes were assessed by a questionnaire. Both genders showed a male stereotype for mental rotation. Implicit gender stereotype activation influenced the gender difference only in picture-plane mental-rotation tasks. Boys outperformed girls in the threatening condition, but not in the non-threatening condition, here. However, in-depth rotation tasks induced a significant male advantage in both the threatening and the non-threatening conditions. Findings suggest that a task framing relating mental rotation to arts induces a stereotype-lift effect and that the rotational axis moderates the effect of implicit gender-stereotype activation.
    Learning and Individual Differences 11/2014; · 1.58 Impact Factor
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May 15, 2014