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The Development of Gender Differences in Spatial Reasoning: A Meta-Analytic Review

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Abstract

Gender differences in spatial aptitude are well established by adulthood, particularly when measured by tasks that require the mental rotation of objects (Linn & Petersen, 1985; Voyer et al., 1995). Although the male advantage in mental rotation performance represents one of the most robust gender differences in adult cognition, the developmental trajectory of this male advantage remains a topic of considerable debate. To address this debate, we meta-analyzed 303 effect sizes pertaining to gender differences in mental rotation performance among 30,613 children and adolescents across 128 studies. We found significant developmental change in the magnitude of the gender difference between 3 and 17 years of age. A small male advantage in mental rotation performance first emerged during childhood and then subsequently increased with age, reaching a moderate effect size during adolescence. Procedural factors, including task and stimulus characteristics, also accounted for variability in reported gender differences, even when controlling for the effects of age. These results demonstrate that both age and procedural characteristics moderate the magnitude of the gender difference in mental rotation throughout development.

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... Previous studies have shown that men and boys outscore women and girls in mental-rotation tasks involving abstract objects (Voyer et al., 1995;Geiser et al., 2008;Moè, 2009Moè, , 2018Maeda and Yoon, 2013;Levine et al., 2016;Lauer et al., 2019;Lütke and Lange-Küttner, 2021). A popular explanation for this gap proposes that males and females may have experienced different selective pressures for specific spatial capacities during human evolution (Geary, 2022). ...
... However, more recent analyses propose that the male and female brain are not dimorphic and sex-related variances in brain's structure and connectivity patterns are negligible and gender differences in cognitive abilities are probably associated with individual variance in genetic, epigenetic, and experiential factors (Eliot et al., 2021). A recent meta-analysis showed that a small male advantage in mentalrotation performance emerges during childhood and then subsequently increases with age, reaching a moderate effect size during adolescence (Lauer et al., 2019). While a recent study (Barel and Tzischinsky, 2018) using 3-D and 2-D stimuli showed that sex differences are not apparent in children, another study showed that 10-year-old boys outperformed girls in tasks with 3D cube figures rotated in depth (Ruthsatz et al., 2014). ...
... On the other hand, several studies have recently proposed that spatial anxiety and self-expectations in performance may also be important factors behind male superiority in mental-rotation tests (Moè, 2009;Alvarez-Vargas et al., 2020;Arrighi and Hausmann, 2022). Both characteristics can be exacerbated by social situational threats and gender-stereotyping still prevalent in modern societies (Lauer et al., 2019). For instance, the aforementioned study by Constantinescu et al. (2018) showed a negative correlation between parents' genderstereotypical attitudes and mental-rotation performance only in girls. ...
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Gender differences in spatial abilities favor males in both childhood and adulthood. During early development, this discrepancy can be attributed, among other things, to the influence of an early testosterone surge in boys, societal stereotypes, and expectations about gender. In the present work, we created a spatial task (including letter rotation and letter mirroring) which used letters as stimuli and evaluated the performance of school-aged children (6–10 years old). During this age period, children are being taught literacy skills which rely on the reorganization of cortical networks and the breakdown of mirror generalization. We divided our sample ( N = 142, 73 females) into two age groups: 1 st –2 nd (literacy acquisition; N = 70, 33 females) and 3 rd –5 th (literacy consolidation; N = 72, 40 females) graders. While boys performed significantly better in letter rotation in the older group, girls’ performance remained substandard in both groups. This pattern is reversed for the mirror task, with older girls outperforming their younger counterparts and boys having similar performance in the two groups. Since the age period of our sample is not associated with large variations in the levels of reproductive steroids, we propose that the similarity of performance between younger and older girls in mental rotation of letters could be associated with society’s traditional attitudes and expectations on the relationship between visual–spatial skills and gender. As for the mirror task, while only girls had a significant difference between the two age groups, boys did show an improvement, as expected for the inhibition of mirror generalization for letters during reading acquisition.
... The severity of lower academic achievements and retention of females in biology careers has been portrayed in the leaky pipeline phenomenon, thus drawing attention to providing equal opportunities for all genders to ensure merit-based achievements, retention, and career success Lauer et al., 2013;Moorosi, 2010). Numerous gender disparities, widening achievement gaps, female's lower-class discussion, class group participation, and continuous underachievement as they receive lower grade points in introductory biology classrooms remain critical issues in many contexts, and most of them are still under-researched areas (Bailey et al., 2020;Lauer et al., 2013;Lauer et al., 2019;Rauschenberger et al., 2010). Besides biology nonmajor and major female and male students' differences in knowledge, learning styles, and achievements, it is unclear about the effects of various social and gender identities and pedagogical approaches on biology students' achievements due to a shortage of research (Crossgrove & Curran, 2008;Knight & Smith, 2010;Sundberg & Dini, 1993). ...
... Biology learning involves more than just factual knowledge of a subject and pedagogies style, the learner's own student's identities and sociocultural factors influence the outcome of both teaching methods, yet we know very little about it (Chen et al., 2012;Christianson et al., 2007;Economides & Journal, 2008;Khan et al., 2015;Krathwohl, 2002;Lauer et al., 2019;Lee et al., 2017;Shah & Shah, 2012). Although CL has been hailed as a successful approach for improving student learning, retaining science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students, and meeting many of the National Science Education Standards, it is not without flaws (Bransford et al., 1999;Calderón & Rachel Slavin, 1998;Jensen & Lawson, 2011;Pratt, 2003;Rutherford & Ahlgren, 1991;Slavin, 1996;Slavin, 2010). ...
... There are many unresolved issues due to conflicting findings (Lauer et al., 2013;Lauer et al., 2019); for example, some researchers argue that the gender difference is related to students' personality factors such as lower learning abilities, anxiety, lower self-confidence (Lauer et al., 2013;Strenta et al., 1994), and students' negative perceptions may have led to lower achievement (Crombie et al., 2003). Science subject-specific identities: e.g. ...
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This study hypothesized whether the gender group composition in traditional learning (TL) versus collaborative learning (CL) classrooms of undergraduate biology majors and nonmajors correlate with students’ achievements. We measured the effect on gender and the gender-specific achievements of the TL versus CL approach in single-gender and mixed-gender classes. A significant gender gap was found in the achievements of both nonmajor and major students. Females achieved higher grades in TL and CL sections in single-gender classes; overall, academic achievements between females (F) and males (M) demonstrated a significant difference at P<.05. The effect size value between TL versus CL indicated that males benefited more than females implementing CL mixed-gender (2F+2M) in nonmajors and majors. While females in single-gender CL and TL classes performed higher than males, females performed relatively low in mix-gender CL (2F+2M). These findings indicate that gender-specific and context-specific learning pedagogies are required since they impact students’ achievement.
... Across several large-scale samples drawn from the US adolescent population between 1960 and 1992 (Hedges & Nowell, 1995), girls performed better on reading comprehension (recalculated random effect meta-analytical estimate across the reported studies, d = 0.09), perceptual speed (d = 0.27), and associative memory (d = 0.26), whereas boys performed better on spatial ability (d = 0.19), mathematics (d = 0.16; but d = 0.07 in an analysis run with similar but more recent data, Lindberg et al., 2010), and science (d = 0.32). Crosscultural meta-analyses on both spatial (Lauer et al., 2019) and mathematical (Lindberg et al., 2010) ability have corroborated the US results in the sense that boys have performed better, and further suggested that the sex differences tend to increase towards adolescence (d ≈ 0.50 and d = 0.23, respectively). Furthermore, in a recent large-scale meta-analysis on working memory, adolescent girls performed better, especially on cued tasks (d = 0.24; Voyer et al., 2021). ...
... Although there were no meaningful sex differences in general cognitive ability, the performance profiles on cognitive tests did show a medium-to-large gender gap that indicated more sex differentiation than has usually been reported for single cognitive abilities (Halpern, 2011;Hedges & Nowell, 1995;Miller & Halpern, 2014; but see Lauer et al., 2019 andLynn &Irwing, 2002 for moderate differences in some mental rotation task variants and general knowledge, respectively). This implies that the common practice of summarizing across tasks tends to mask differences in how the sexes perform across a set of tasks (Johnson & Bouchard, 2007). ...
... For example, some tests for which some of the larger sex differences have been documented were not included. A recent meta-analysis suggests that the sex difference at 16 could be roughly between d = 0.40 and d = 0.60 for mental rotation (Lauer et al., 2019), and a sex difference of similar magnitude was reported for general knowledge in a study of undergraduates in the UK (Lynn & Irwing, 2002). However, because mental rotation and general knowledge presumably show at least moderate correlations with some, if not all, of the cognitive tests that we did administer, these sex differences cannot in any straightforward way be added to the multivariate estimate we obtained. ...
Article
Some of the most persistently recurring research questions concern sex differences. Despite much progress, limited research has thus far been undertaken to investigate whether there is one general construct of genderedness that runs through various domains of human individuality. In order to determine whether being gender typical in one way goes together with being gender typical also in other ways, we investigated whether 16-year-old Finnish girls and boys ( N = 4106) differ in their personality, values, cognitive abilities, academic achievement, and educational track. To do this, we updated the prediction-focused gender diagnosticity approach by methods of cross-validation for more accurate estimation. The preregistered analysis shows that sex differences vary across domains ( Ds = 0.15–1.48), that fine-grained measures, such as grade profiles, can be accurate in predicting sex (77.5%), whereas some summary indices, such as general cognitive ability, do not perform above-chance (52.4%), and that the genderedness correlations, despite all being positive, are too weak (average partial correlation, r´ = .09, range .03–.34) to support a general factor of genderedness. Our more exploratory analyses show that more focus on gender typicality could offer important insights into the role of gender in shaping people’s lives.
... Mental rotation is the target of study interest because it is considered an important spatial factor with strong evidence relating it to STEM learning (Newcombe and Frick, 2010). Moreover, among the various spatial factors, the largest gender difference in favor of males is found with mental rotation (Halpern, 1989;Hegarty et al., 2006;Lauer et al., 2019;Linn and Petersen, 1985;Voyer et al., 1995). Mental rotation refers to the ability to mentally rotate two-or three-dimensional objects rapidly and accurately (Linn and Petersen, 1985). ...
... On the other hand, as reported in the meta-analytic review of 128 studies by Lauer et al. (2019), the significant developmental change in the magnitude of the gender difference can be found between 3 and 17 years of age. There is also some remarkable research exploring the mental rotation performance of much younger children, such as the first-year infants (Lauer and Lourenco, 2016); however, in these cases, extra human assistance, alternative data collection, or measurement technology (e.g., eye tracking) would be required in design and testing. ...
... In addition to age, performance factors (or procedural factors as named by Lauer et al., 2019), including task or stimulus characteristics, have been studied to account for spatial gender differences, such as test interactivity (Jeng and Liu, 2016), test time constraints (Jansen et al., 2013;Peters et al., 1995), angular disparity (Cheung et al., 2009), scoring schemes (Voyer, 1997), response formats (Glück and Fabrizii, 2010), task difficulty (Cherney, 2008), and larger versus smaller spatial scales (Hegarty et al., 2006). These studies differ in their perspectives, focusing on a single main independent variable of interest at a time. ...
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To achieve a comprehensive and unbiased measurement, a mental rotation test (MRT) (cube form) was redrawn and administered with influential performance factors, namely, time constraint, item type, angular disparity, and rotation/flipping. Item type, angular disparity, and rotation/flipping were systematically balanced into the items of the redrawn Pentomino-MRT, and two time-constraint conditions were randomly assigned to 813 Grade 4 to 6 primary students when administering the test. Children of these ages are of investigative interest because they are at crucial stages of spatial ability development and are at an age where associated gender differences emerge. The study demonstrates that spatial gender differences can be detected in Grade 4, are more marked in Grade 5, and become stable in Grade 6. The importance of time constraint is acknowledged in how and at what grade gender differences emerge under the conditions of the performance factors investigated. In particular, the performance of girls reminds us to focus on their spatial ability development if later STEM-related field participation is of concern.
... Due in part to these visual problems, researchers have frequently demonstrated that factors besides mental rotation itself impact performance on mental rotation tests (Boone & Hegarty, 2017;Bors & Vigneau, 2011;Caissie et al., 2009;Fisher et al., 2018;Hegarty, 2018;Lauer et al., 2019;McWilliams et al., 1997;Neuburger et al., 2015;Sanchis-Segura et al., 2018;Toth & Campbell, 2019;Voyer & Hou, 2006). Based on pupillometry measures, Toth and Campbell concluded that the V/K MRT might be exceedingly difficult for anyone who does not have an educational background associated with high spatial ability, regardless of gender (Toth & Campbell, 2019). ...
... One consistent theme in the hormone research has been a search for a link between performance on spatial tests and the menstrual cycle (for example: Courvoisier et al., 2013;Hampson & Kimura, 1988;Hausmann et al., 2000;Vandenberg & Kuse, 1978). A recent meta-analysis concluded that neither puberty hormones nor prenatal androgens explain gender differences in spatial ability, due to the timing of the emergence of differences (Lauer et al., 2019). Another recent meta-analysis also failed to find support for the prenatal androgen theory (Collaer & Hines, 2020). ...
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Spatial ability has long been regarded as important in STEM, and mental rotation, a subcategory of spatial ability, is widely accepted as the cognitive ability with the largest gender difference in favor of men. Multiple meta-analyses of various tests of spatial ability have found large gender differences in outcomes of the mental rotation test (MRT). In this paper, we argue that more recent literature suggests that the MRT is not a valid measure of mental rotation ability. More importantly, we argue that the construct of “spatial ability” itself has been co-constructed with gender, and thus has not been devised in a neutral way, but in a manner that is influenced by gender beliefs. We discuss that though spatial thinking is also required in feminized fields, past research has cast spatial ability as only necessary in masculinized STEM fields. Due to a prevailing belief that spatial ability was an inherently male ability, researchers “selectively bred” some spatial assessment instruments to maximize gender differences, rather than to precisely measure a spatial construct. We argue that such instruments, of which the MRT is one, cannot validly assess between-group differences, and ideas about biological or evolutionary causes of sex differences in spatial ability lack empirical evidence. Instead, the co-construction of gender and spatial ability better explains observed patterns. We also provide recommendations for spatial researchers moving forward.
... Ein bekannter und sehr gut dokumentierter Befund betrifft die bestehenden Geschlechterunterschiede in den mentalen Rotationsleistungen. Sogar kulturübergreifend (Geary & DeSoto, 2001) zeigten sich männliche den weiblichen Teilnehmenden deutlich überlegen. Diese Unterschiede bestätigten sich in Metanalysen sogar über die gesamte Lebensspanne (Linn & Petersen, 1985;Voyer, Voyer & Bryden, 1995), wobei der Unterschied bei jüngeren Testpersonen kleiner ausfällt als bei älteren (Lauer, Yhang & Lourenco, 2019). Jedoch nicht nur das Alter, sondern auch prozedurale Unterschiede, wie etwa die Darbietung von zwei-oder dreidimensionalen Objekten (Lauer et al., 2019), Unterschiede in den verwendeten Materialien (Rahe, Ruthsatz & Quaiser-Pohl, 2021) oder in den Instruktionen angesprochene Geschlechterstereotype (Neuburger, Jansen, Heil & Quaiser-Pohl, 2012), aber auch die Verwendung von psychometrischen oder chronometrischen Verfahren (Jansen-Osmann & Heil, 2007) zeigten sich für das Ausmaß der Geschlechtsunterschiede als relevant. ...
... Diese Unterschiede bestätigten sich in Metanalysen sogar über die gesamte Lebensspanne (Linn & Petersen, 1985;Voyer, Voyer & Bryden, 1995), wobei der Unterschied bei jüngeren Testpersonen kleiner ausfällt als bei älteren (Lauer, Yhang & Lourenco, 2019). Jedoch nicht nur das Alter, sondern auch prozedurale Unterschiede, wie etwa die Darbietung von zwei-oder dreidimensionalen Objekten (Lauer et al., 2019), Unterschiede in den verwendeten Materialien (Rahe, Ruthsatz & Quaiser-Pohl, 2021) oder in den Instruktionen angesprochene Geschlechterstereotype (Neuburger, Jansen, Heil & Quaiser-Pohl, 2012), aber auch die Verwendung von psychometrischen oder chronometrischen Verfahren (Jansen-Osmann & Heil, 2007) zeigten sich für das Ausmaß der Geschlechtsunterschiede als relevant. ...
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Zusammenfassung. Die mentalen Rotationsleistungen als eine Komponente visuell-räumlicher Fähigkeiten stehen in enger Verbindung zur mathematischen Entwicklung sowie zum schulischen und beruflichen Erfolg in den MINT-Fächern. Daneben werden geringe mentale Rotationsleistungen bei Kindern mit einer Lese-Rechtschreibstörung diskutiert. Derzeit ist kein Messinstrument für den Schuleingangsbereich verfügbar, welches sowohl die Lösungsgenauigkeit als auch die Reaktionszeit misst und den allgemeinen Kriterien der Psychometrie (Objektivität, Validität und Reliabilität) entspricht. Anliegen der vorgelegten Untersuchung ist es, diese Lücke zu schließen. In zwei Studien wurde ein computerbasiertes Testverfahren für Schulkinder bis zur dritten Klassenstufe entwickelt, welches die Besonderheiten bei der Erfassung mentaler Rotationsleistungen junger Kinder berücksichtigt. Die vorgenommenen testtheoretischen Betrachtungen an 300 Grundschulkindern waren zufriedenstellend. Die Daten konnten wesentliche Befunde der Literatur bestätigen und wurden kritisch diskutiert. Mit dem cMR liegt nun ein ökonomisches chronometrisches Testverfahren zur Erfassung mentaler Rotationsleistungen vor, welches bereits bei Kindern ab der ersten Klasse einsetzbar ist.
... In addition to individual differences in spatial skill development, decades of research have examined the existence, extent, and causes of sex and gender differences in spatial skills. One of the most consistent findings is a male advantage for 3-D mental rotation, which emerges with a small effect size by age 6 and grows stronger with development, reaching a medium effect size by age 14 (see recent metaanalysis by Lauer et al., 2019). Interestingly, factors like the format of stimulus presentation (presenting 2-D rather than 3-D figures) and reducing time pressure to complete tasks sometimes result in a smaller gender difference in mental rotation performance, although Lauer and colleagues' (2019) meta-analysis found a significant gender difference even after accounting for these factors. ...
... One major contributor is the emergence of gendered attitudes and expectations about STEM ability and interest in the early school years, which further solidify in high school (Ceci et al., 2014;Master, 2021). Gender differences in spatial skill, which widen over middle childhood and early adolescence, could also contribute to differences in STEM pursuit (Lauer et al., 2019). ...
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In this review, we propose that fiber arts – a wide array of practices that use string, yarn, and fabric to create functional and fine art textiles – present a novel avenue to both explore basic science questions about spatial skills and to design interventions that help children learn spatial skills. First, we outline how fiber arts are applicable to existing theoretical frameworks that aim to organize our understanding of spatial skills and highlight how fiber arts may be particularly relevant for understanding critically understudied non-rigid spatial skills. Next, we review the environmental factors that influence spatial skill development. In the third section of the paper, we review the literature on gender differences in spatial skill performance, as well as intervention approaches that have been taken to close gender gaps. Fourth, we outline how motivational features of fiber arts, specifically the roles of individual choice in goal-setting, and growth-mindset-consistent messages in fiber arts contexts, could contribute to spatial learning. Finally, we suggest several avenues for future research, including leveraging fiber arts materials and techniques to investigate non-rigid mental transformation skills, and designing gender-inclusive fiber-arts-based spatial skills interventions that maintain the motivationally relevant features of fiber arts practices and contexts.
... The critical role of spatial skills in STEM was particularly J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f highlighted by Wai et al.'s (2009) findings showing that high-school students' spatial performance predicted their choice of STEM careers 11 years later -regardless of their verbal and math performance. Unfortunately, the gender gap in VS performance has also been found to be among the largest and the most robust gender differences found in human cognition, with a strong and persistent male advantage (Yuan et al, 2019;Halpern et al., 2011;Hyde, 2014;Kimura, 2000;Lauer et al., 2019;Peters et al., 2007). The gender gap in spatial skills tends to translate into the gender gap in STEM by early adolescence (Ganley et al., 2014). ...
... To control for potential influence of other factors, several covariates were included in the analysis based on prior research. Individual and developmental differences (such as ethnicity, gender, age and socioeconomic status) have been shown to impact visuospatial performance outcomes (Lauer et al, 2019;Levine et al., 2005;Linn & Petersen, 1985;Sanders et al., 1982); correlations have also been found between gaming experience and visuospatial performance (Spence & Feng, 2010; J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f efficacy and performance (Honicke & Broadbent, 2016;Uitto, 2014;Williams & Williams, 2010). Therefore, ethnicity, gender, age and gaming experience were included as covariates in the model. ...
Article
Visuospatial (VS) skills, or one’s ability to mentally manipulate spatial information about objects, are critical to STEM enrollment, retention, and achievement. Low level of VS skills may deter some people from joining the STEM workforce or complicate their learning experience. While there is plenty of evidence suggesting that VS skills can be improved through training, few accessible training programs exist as of now, particularly for younger students. The current study proposes a new direction of VS training focusing on the development of visuospatial self-efficacy (VSSE), or one’s confidence that they can complete specific VS tasks. The collaborative, desktop/mobile Virtual Reality game called [hidden for peer review] (available for download at [hidden for peer review]) was designed to improve VSSE in middle school students. A total of 169 students across 11 classrooms in 3 middle schools in a mid-western city in the United States participated in the intervention. The participants in the experimental condition (n=96, 6 classrooms) played the intervention game during 4 sessions over the course of 2 weeks, while the participants in the control condition (n=73, 5 classrooms) engaged in typical class activities. The results revealed that the intervention significantly increased students’ VS self-efficacy but not their VS performance or STEM performance. The implications and significance of the findings are discussed along with suggestions for further research.
... Critically, males outperform females on many spatial tasks, with the most profound difference in mental rotation (Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995). A recent meta-analysis showed that small male advantage in mental rotation emerged by 6 years of age, and the advantage increased with age through at least early adulthood (Lauer et al., 2019). ...
... Critically, males outperform females on many spatial tasks, with the most profound difference in mental rotation (Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995). A recent meta-analysis showed that small male advantage in mental rotation emerged by 6 years of age, and the advantage increased with age through at least early adulthood (Lauer et al., 2019). ...
Article
Despite some gains, women continue to be underrepresented in many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Using a national longitudinal dataset of 690 participants born in 1991, we tested whether spatial skills, measured in middle childhood, would help explain this gender gap. We modeled the relation between 4th‐grade spatial skills and STEM majors while simultaneously accounting for competing cognitive and motivational mechanisms. Strong spatial skills in 4th grade directly increased the likelihood of choosing STEM college majors, above and beyond math achievement and motivation, verbal achievement and motivation, and family background. Additionally, 4th‐grade spatial skills indirectly predicted STEM major choice via math achievement and motivation in the intervening years. Further, our findings suggest that gender differences in 4th‐grade spatial skills contribute to women's underrepresentation in STEM majors. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
... Sex differences, favoring boys, in various components of spatial abilities are well documented, including visuospatial working memory (Voyer et al., 2017), visuospatial attention (Collaer et al., 2007), mental rotation (Voyer et al., 1995), and various indices of navigational skills (Matthews, 1992;Nazareth et al., 2019). Many of these differences are evident in the preschool years, sometimes earlier (Levine et al., 1999;Moore & Johnson, 2008), and increase in magnitude with development (Lauer et al., 2019). These sex differences are potentially important, because spatial abilities appear to facilitate the learning of newly introduced mathematical content (Casey et al., 1997;Mix et al., 2016) and can result in sex differences in problem-solving approaches (Casey & Ganley, 2021). ...
... The results confirm prior findings that spatial abilities contribute to at least some aspects of mathematical competence (Casey & Ganley, 2021;Geary, 2022;Halpern et al., 2007;Hawes & Ansari, 2020;Mix, 2019) and there is a sex difference, favoring boys, in spatial performance (Collaer et al., 2007;Lauer et al., 2019;Nazareth et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995;Voyer et al., 2017). One contribution here is the estimate of the relation between spatial and mathematics abilities, while controlling for the contribution of general ability to spatial and mathematics performance. ...
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The study tested the hypothesis that there are sex differences in the pathways to mathematical development. Three hundred forty-two adolescents (169 boys) were assessed in various mathematics areas from arithmetic fluency to algebra across 6th to 9th grade, inclusive, and completed a battery of working memory, spatial, and intelligence measures in middle school. Their middle school and 9th grade teachers reported on their in-class attentive behavior. There were no sex differences in overall mathematics performance, but boys had advantages on all spatial measures (ds = .29 to .58) and girls were more attentive in classroom settings (ds = -.28 to -.37). A series of structural equation models indicated that 6th- to 9th-grade mathematical competence was influenced by a combination of general cognitive ability, spatial abilities, and in-class attention. General cognitive ability was important for both sexes but the spatial pathway to mathematical competence was relatively more important for boys and the in-class attention pathway for girls.
... Especially in psychometric mental rotation tests, metaanalyses found gender differences favoring boys and males in childhood (Lauer et al., 2019), adolescence (Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995), and adulthood (Voyer et al., 1995). In this study, we examine whether these gender differences can be influenced by stereotype threat manipulation and mindfulness induction. ...
... Especially in psychometric mental rotation tests, metaanalyses found gender differences favoring boys and males in childhood (Lauer et al., 2019), adolescence (Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995), and adulthood (Voyer et al., 1995). In this study, we examine whether these gender differences can be influenced by stereotype threat manipulation and mindfulness induction. ...
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We investigated gender differences in mental rotation performance in younger and older adolescents and effects of stereotype threat activation and a short mindfulness induction. Two hundred fifty younger adolescents from grades 5, 6, and 7 (119 boys) and 152 older adolescents from grades 10, 11, and 12 (80 boys) were divided into four groups with or without a mindfulness induction and with or without stereotype threat activation. All participants solved a mental rotation test and filled out a questionnaire about their gender stereotype beliefs and perceived abilities of masculine and feminine activities. Results illustrate that older adolescents outperformed younger adolescents, and gender differences in favour of males appeared only in the older age group. Independent of gender, the mindfulness induction had a significantly positive effect on adolescents’ mental rotation performance that was significant only in the older age group. No effect of the stereotype activation was found. For gender stereotype beliefs and perceived abilities of gendered activities, the mindfulness intervention enhanced male stereotype beliefs and participants’ perceived ability of masculine activities. A short mindfulness induction seems to have an enhancing effect on a subsequently performed stereotypically masculine cognitive task and consequently on adolescents’ male stereotype beliefs and their perceived ability in masculine activities.
... Johnson & Meade, 1987;Voyer, Voyer, & Bryden, 1995). These abilities show robust growth during these years and continue to develop during adolescence (Lauer, Yhang, & Lourenco, 2019). As noted, these abilities are thought to be related, in evolutionary perspective, to tool use and accordingly are integrated with areas of the brain that are associated with mechanical reasoning (Osiurak et al., 2009). ...
... As reviewed by Casey and Ganley (this issue), there are consistent relations between performance on psychometric measures of these spatial abilities and various outcomes in mathematics, controlling domain-general abilities (e.g., fluid intelligence; Atit et al., 2021;Casey, Nuttall, & Pezaris, 1997;Casey, Nuttall, Pezaris, & Benbow, 1995;Hawes & Ansari, 2020;Kyttälä & Lehto 2008;Mix, 2019). There are also sex differences in spatial abilities that appear to contribute to sex differences in some areas of mathematics (Casey et al., 1997;Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995;Voyer, Voyer, & Saint-Aubin, 2017). In the first section, I briefly discuss some of the ways in which spatial abilities might contribute to mathematical learning and in the second discuss associated sex differences. ...
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The articles in this special issue provide state-of-the-art reviews of the brain and cognitive systems that are engaged during some aspects of mathematical learning, as well as the self-beliefs, anxiety, and social factors that influence engagement with mathematics, along with discussion of any associated sex differences. These issues are integrated into an evolutionary perspective that includes discussion of how evolved brain and cognitive systems might be co-opted for learning in the evolutionarily novel domain of mathematics. Attitudes and beliefs about mathematics are considered in the context of the evolution of self-awareness that in turn explains why many students do not value mathematics, despites its importance in the modern world, as highly as many other personal traits, such as their physical appearance. The overall argument is that reflecting on academic learning and attitudes from an evolutionary perspective provides insights into student learning and self-beliefs about learning that might otherwise elude explanation.
... Geer et al., 2019;Gilligan et al., 2019;Hawes & Ansari, 2020;Young et al., 2018). There is also evidence to suggest that improving spatial reasoning may help ameliorate disparities across race and gender (Hadi-Tabassum, 2017;Lauer et al., 2019). Finally, integration of spatial reasoning has been shown to support equitable Mathematics learning across various achievement levels, and specifically for those populations from our data set where these disparities are most prevalent (i.e., high achievers; Rutherford et al., 2014). ...
... One of the most highly cited meta-analyses around differences in gender performance on spatial reasoning tasks (i.e., mental rotation) illuminates the emergence and persistence of disparities linked explicitly to its emergence in elementary school (Lauer et al., 2019). In this work, the authors tease out the nuances of these gender disparities around spatial reasoning among 128 studies estimating 303 effect sizes. ...
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Disparities in Mathematics performance have been shown across race and gender for decades, although little research has reported the race by gender nexus in terms of disparity. In turn, research done to ameliorate these disparities have assumed that these differences are primarily among student populations who need remedial learning improvement. In this research, we test these assumptions by using multinomial regression analyses and adjusted mean comparisons with bias-corrected effect sizes from a data set of ~20,000 2nd grade students in Chicago. Further, we contribute to previous elementary Mathematics research by illuminating the powerful impacts that spatial reasoning integrations into Mathematics curriculum and pedagogy can have for all students' learning. Our findings provide empirical support that even after accounting for the effects of school composition, racial disparities exist in the beginning and persist throughout the year, among 2nd grade students. However, upon disaggregating students by race, gender, and median split, such disparities are greatest among students that are above the median. Our results encourage quantitative research analyses that explore ways to reduce Mathematics disparities to sharpen their approaches to be more sensitive to the achievement levels of students among such equity inquiries.
... Despite this apparent consistency, it should be noted that not all studies have revealed significant sex differences in spatial skill, suggesting that the effects may be task-specific (e.g., Spelke, Gilmore, & McCarthy, 2011). Further, a recent meta-analysis indicated that the magnitude of the difference appears to increase with age (Lauer, Yhang, & Lourenco, 2019). Nonetheless, the bulk of the evidence suggests a male advantage on certain spatial tasks that is evident to some extent, irrespective of age. ...
... As in prior research (Lauer et al., 2019;Levine et al., 2005), we obtained evidence for a significant sex difference favoring boys over girls on spatial tasks, both collapsing across the grades (η 2 p = 0.018) and when examined within grade. Also consistent with prior research (Bakker et al., 2019;Lachance & Mazzocco, 2006), we did not observe a significant sex difference on mathematics tasks when collapsing across grades (η 2 p = 0.005). ...
Article
Performance on a range of spatial and mathematics tasks was measured in a sample of 1592 students in kindergarten, third grade, and sixth grade. In a previously published analysis of these data, performance was analyzed by grade only. In the present analyses, we examined whether the relations between spatial skill and mathematics skill differed across socio-economic levels, for boys versus girls, or both. Our first aim was to test for group differences in spatial skill and mathematics skill. We found that children from higher income families showed significantly better performance on both spatial and mathematics measures, and boys outperformed girls on spatial measures in all three grades, but only outperformed girls on mathematics measures in kindergarten. Further, comparisons using factor analysis indicated that the income-related gap in mathematics performance increased across the grade levels, while the income-related gap in spatial performance remained constant. Our second aim was to test whether spatial skill mediated any of these effects, and we found that it did, either partially or fully, in all four cases. Our third aim was to test whether the "separate but correlated" two-factor latent structure previously reported for spatial skill and mathematics skill was (Mix et al., 2016; Mix et al., 2017) replicated across grade, SES, and sex. Multi-group confirmatory factor analyses conducted for each of these subgroups indicated that the same latent structure was present, despite differences in overall performance. These findings replicate and extend prior work on SES and sex differences related to spatial and mathematics skill, but provide evidence that the relations between the domains are stable and consistent across subgroups.
... This trend should be cautiously interpreted as recent literature has problematised some of the findings ascribing male superiority in spatial ability being subject to numerous moderator effects, including both measurement and testing conditions. See for exampleLauer, J. E., Yhang, E., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). The Development of Gender Differences in Spatial Reasoning: A Meta-Analytic Review. ...
... Spatial abilities in general are important for psychological development, and understanding www.nature.com/scientificreports/ how they are influenced by visual perceptual processes may contribute to enhancing them and increasing the participation of girls and women in STEM careers 3,5,13,15,[32][33][34] . ...
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Sex differences in a variety of psychological characteristics are well-documented, with substantial research focused on factors that affect their magnitude and causes. Particular attention has focused on mental rotation, a measure of spatial cognition, and on activity interests. We studied whether sex differences in visual perception—luminance contrast thresholds and motion duration thresholds—contribute to sex differences in mental rotation and interest in male-typed activities. We confirmed sex differences in vision, mental rotation, and activity interests in a sample of 132 college students. In novel findings, we showed that vision correlated with mental rotation performance in women, that vision was a better predictor of individual differences in mental rotation than sex, and that contrast thresholds correlated with women’s interest in male-typed activities. These results suggest that sex differences in spatial cognition and activity interests may have their roots in basic perceptual processes.
... In addition, females have been found to outperform males in word recalling, language and memory tests (Kaushanskaya et al., 2013;Loprinzi and Frith, 2018;Theofilidis et al., 2020) while males generally showed better performance in spatial abilities, especially in mental rotation (Levine et al., 2016;Lauer et al., 2019). However, the results are not always clearcut, and they are often more related to the socio-cultural context and to the type of task (Wai et al., 2010;Nazareth et al., 2013;Miller and Halpern, 2014). ...
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Music training, in all its forms, is known to have an impact on behavior both in childhood and even in aging. In the delicate life period of transition from childhood to adulthood, music training might have a special role for behavioral and cognitive maturation. Among the several kinds of music training programs implemented in the educational communities, we focused on instrumental training incorporated in the public middle school curriculum in Italy that includes both individual, group and collective (orchestral) lessons several times a week. At three middle schools, we tested 285 preadolescent children (aged 10–14 years) with a test and questionnaire battery including adaptive tests for visuo-spatial working memory skills (with the Jack and Jill test), fluid intelligence (with a matrix reasoning test) and music-related perceptual and memory abilities (with listening tests). Of these children, 163 belonged to a music curriculum within the school and 122 to a standard curriculum. Significant differences between students of the music and standard curricula were found in both perceptual and cognitive domains, even when controlling for pre-existing individual differences in musical sophistication. The music children attending the third and last grade of middle school had better performance and showed the largest advantage compared to the control group on both audiovisual working memory and fluid intelligence. Furthermore, some gender differences were found for several tests and across groups in favor of females. The present results indicate that learning to play a musical instrument as part of the middle school curriculum represents a resource for preadolescent education. Even though the current evidence is not sufficient to establish the causality of the found effects, it can still guide future research evaluation with longitudinal data.
... Aktuell wird davon ausgegangen, dass sich der Geschlechtsunterschied hinsichtlich der mentalen Rotationsfähigkeit im Grundschulalter ausbildet (Geiser, Lehmann, & Eid, 2008;Lauer, Yhang, & Lourenco, 2019). In dieser Altersgruppe liegen meines Wissens bislang keine Erkenntnisse dazu vor, ob ein Geschlechtsunterschied zugunsten der Jungen in bestimmten mathematischen Kompetenzen auf einen Geschlechtsunterschied in der mentalen Rotationsfähigkeit zurückgeführt werden kann. ...
Thesis
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Thema der vorliegenden Dissertation ist die Entwicklung mathematischer Kompetenzen vom Kindergartenalter bis zum Ende der zweiten Klassenstufe und die Frage, ob diese Entwicklung bei Mädchen und Jungen unterschiedlich verläuft. Anhand zweier Messzeitpunkte einer Längsschnittstudie wurde zunächst untersucht, inwieweit sich Mädchen (N = 105) und Jungen (N = 119) im letzten Kindergartenjahr hinsichtlich ihrer mathematischen Basiskompetenzen (erhoben mit dem MBK-0; Krajewski, 2018) unterscheiden. Dies könnte Hinweise auf eine mögliche geschlechtsspezifische Sozialisation in Bezug auf den frühen Erwerb mathematischer Kompetenzen geben. Ein Dreivierteljahr vor der Einschulung (MZP 1) unterschieden sich Mädchen und Jungen nicht signifikant bezüglich ihrer mathematischen Basiskompetenzen. Ein Vierteljahr vor der Einschulung (MZP 2) wiesen Jungen signifikant höhere mathematische Basiskompetenzen auf als Mädchen. Dieser Geschlechtsunterschied war insbesondere auf einen signifikanten Vorteil der Jungen hinsichtlich der numerischen Basisfertigkeiten (Ebene 1 des Modells der Zahl-Größen-Verknüpfung (Krajewski, 2013); Zahlenfolge und Ziffernkenntnis) zurückzuführen. Die Effekte sind jedoch als gering einzustufen. Auffallend war, dass der Geschlechtsunterschied hinsichtlich des Gesamtwertes der mathematischen Basiskompetenzen im unteren Leistungsbereich kaum vorhanden war und zum oberen Leistungsbereich hin anstieg. Eine Tendenz diesbezüglich war bereits zum ersten Messzeitpunkt erkennbar. Da teilweise deutliche Deckeneffekte vorlagen, waren die Kompetenzen der Kinder im oberen Leistungsbereich jedoch nicht genau charakterisierbar. Aufgrund theoretischer Annahmen zu verschiedenen Denkweisen, die bei Mädchen und Jungen unterschiedlich häufig vorkommen könnten, wurde darüber hinaus untersucht, ob das visuell-räumliche Arbeitsgedächtnis beim Erwerb mathematischer Basiskompetenzen im Vorschulalter bei Mädchen eine geringere Rolle spielt als bei Jungen, beim Kompetenzerwerb im Schulalter dann jedoch bei Mädchen eine größere Rolle spielt als bei Jungen. Um dies zu überprüfen wurden Pfadmodelle für Mädchen (N = 85) und Jungen (N = 105) spezifiziert. Gruppenvergleiche ergaben jedoch keine signifikanten Geschlechtsunterschiede in Bezug auf die vermuteten Prozesse. Auch wurde untersucht, ob die Prognose einer Rechenschwäche aufgrund der vermuteten Entwicklungsunterschiede bei Mädchen ungenauer ausfällt als bei Jungen. Die zur Bewertung der Prognose herangezogenen Gütekriterien unterschieden sich nicht signifikant zwischen Mädchen und Jungen. Die Prävalenz einer Rechenschwäche fiel bei Mädchen tendenziell höher aus (23 Prozent) als bei Jungen (12 Prozent). Ein Geschlechtsunterschied hinsichtlich mathematischer Kompetenzen scheint also zunächst vorrangig im oberen und mittleren Leistungsbereich aufzutreten und sich innerhalb der ersten Grundschuljahre auf die gesamte Verteilung auszubreiten. Um den vorhandenen Geschlechtsunterschied im Kindergartenalter auszugleichen, müssten Mädchen bereits vor Schulbeginn stärker ermuntert werden, sich mit höheren (mindestens zweistelligen) Zahlen (auch in Ziffernform) auseinanderzusetzen. Eine Förderung des einfachen (ZGV-Modell: Ebene 2) und tiefen Zahlverständnisses (ZGV-Modell: Ebene 3) sollte dabei jedoch nicht vernachlässigt werden, da diese Kompetenzen eine wichtige Grundlage für die Erarbeitung erfolgreicher Rechenstrategien bilden.
... that remained significant with control of verbal abilities and fluid reasoning (r =.18). The combination of a male advantage in most spatial domains (Lauer et al., 2019;Voyer et al., 1995;Voyer et al., 2017) and the relation between mathematics and spatial abilities provides one potential explanation of boys' and men's advantage in some mathematics areas (Geary, Scofield et al., 2021;Kyttälä & Lehto, 2008). Any such advantage, however, should be restricted to mathematical areas in which spatial representations of the problem or use of spatial strategies (e.g., use of diagrams) facilitate performance. ...
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Adolescents' (n = 342, 169 boys) general algebra and algebra word problems performance were assessed in 9th grade as were intelligence, academic achievement, working memory, and spatial abilities in prior grades. The adolescents reported on their academic attitudes and anxiety and their teachers reported on their in-class attentive behavior in 7th to 9th grade. There were no sex differences on the general algebra measure or for mathematics achievement, but boys had an advantage on the algebra word problems measure (d = .51) and for spatial abilities (ds = .29 to .58). Boys had higher mathematics self-efficacy (d = .24 to .33), lower mathematics anxiety (ds = -.31 to -.53) and were less attentive in classrooms (ds = -.28 to -.37). A series of structural equation models revealed the sex difference for algebra word problems was mediated by spatial abilities and mathematics anxiety, controlling myriad confounds. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... We have been hearing about the cognitive difference in male and female from the early period of tracing human behaviour. It is usually claimed that men outperformed women in mathematical and spatial abilities (Lauer et al., 2019). Though genetically based difference between the quality of male and female memory is unknown but possible theories have been presented from the early period of the study. ...
Article
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There are manifestations that conclude sex plays a role in the memory function and thus sex tends to favour a memory type. This comparative study was conducted with higher education boy and girl students to assess the difference in different types of memory between sexes. The assessment done was based on Post Graduate Institute (PGI) memory scale developed by Pershad and Wig (1988). Sex was sole independent variable and dependent variables were ten memory subscales. Data collected were analysed by computing the mean and t-test. Comparison between two groups indicates significant difference in five subscales i.e., remote memory, recent memory, mental balance, attention and concentration and retention of dissimilar pairs. Among five subscales except in recent memory male score has outperformed and the difference in the score was significant. As such computing mean also demonstrated higher mean average in male side. However, the difference in memory between male and female has been demonstrated to some extent though it has followed distinct pattern.
... These gender differences could be linked to the paradigms used, namely, these differences were found in studies where mental rotation was investigated together with navigational performances [9,64]. Specifically, regarding mental rotation, a recent meta-analysis conducted by Lauer and colleagues [66] showed how, starting from childhood, males showed an advantage in tasks where mental rotation was required. These differences could be fundamental for future differences between males and females, namely, the preference of females to use route strategy based on landmarks [18,67]. ...
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Spatial orientation and navigation are fundamental abilities in daily life that develop gradually during childhood, although their development is still not clear. The main aim of the present narrative review was to trace the development of navigational skills in middle childhood (6 to 12 years old) by means of studies present in the literature. To this aim, this review took into account the terminology, methodologies, different paradigms, and apparatuses used to investigate egocentric self-centered and allocentric world-centered representations, besides the different types of spaces (reaching/small/large; physical/virtual). Furthermore, this review provided a brief description of the development of navigational strategies and competences in toddlers and preschool children (0–5 years). The main result of this review showed how middle childhood is a crucial period for the improvement and development of allocentric strategies, including metric information. In fact, during this developmental window, children learn to handle proximal and distal cues, to transpose paper and virtual information into real environments, up to performing similarly to adults. This narrative review could represent a starting point to better clarify the development of navigation and spatial orientation, finalized to trace a development curve useful to map normal development and to have a term of comparison to assess performance in atypical development.
... Because same-sex sexual orientation is hypothesized to arise due to biodevelopmental processes that are more commonly experienced by the other sex, discerning these processes can inform the origins of sex differences in the brain and behavior (Balthazart, 2020;Roselli, 2018). Such differences are wide-reaching, with examples including brain structure and function (e.g., Abé et al., 2021;Raznahan & Disteche, 2021;Sacher et al., 2013;Wierenga et al., 2022;Zhang et al., 2021), visuospatial cognition (Lauer et al., 2019), personality (Kaiser et al., 2020), and attachment (Del Giudice, 2019). Third, similar to how female-and male-specific biological factors affect health (e.g., Galea et al., 2020;Johnson et al., 2009) in domains such as depression (Altemus, 2006;Salk et al., 2017), autism (Loomes et al., 2017;Werling & Geschwind, 2013), age-related cognitive decline (Li & Singh, 2014), and treatment response (Yu et al., 2016), biodevelopmental differences between people of varying sexual orientations might also relate to brain and psychological health (e.g., Kinnunen et al., 2004). ...
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Sexual orientation is a core aspect of human experience and understanding its development is fundamental to psychology as a scientific discipline. Biological perspectives have played an important role in uncovering the processes that contribute to sexual orientation development. Research in this field has relied on a variety of populations, including community, clinical, and cross-cultural samples, and has commonly focused on female gynephilia (i.e., female sexual attraction to adult females) and male androphilia (i.e., male sexual attraction to adult males). Genetic, hormonal, and immunological processes all appear to influence sexual orientation. Consistent with biological perspectives, there are sexual orientation differences in brain development and evidence indicates that similar biological influences apply across cultures. An outstanding question in the field is whether the hypothesized biological influences are all part of the same process or represent different developmental pathways leading to same-sex sexual orientation. Some studies indicate that same-sex sexually oriented people can be divided into subgroups who likely experienced different biological influences. Consideration of gender expression in addition to sexual orientation might help delineate such subgroups. Thus, future research on the possible existence of such subgroups could prove to be valuable for uncovering the biological development of sexual orientation. Recommendations for such future research are discussed.
... In addition to the analyses above, we also performed analyses to examine sex differences in our samples, based upon biological sex (as assigned at birth) reported by parents at recruitment. Reliable sex differences have been observed in spatial learning experiments conducted with adults (e.g., Buckley & Bast, 2018), and recent meta-analyses have begun to determine the factors that may lead to the observation of sex differences in spatial tasks (Lauer et al., 2019;Nazareth et al., 2019). Sex differences are generally not observed when children's reorientation abilities are examined; however, there is at least one study in which young males placed greater weight on the shape of the surrounding space, over landmark cues, compared with young females (Lourenco et al., 2011). ...
Article
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The way in which organisms represent the shape of their environments during navigation has been debated in cognitive, comparative, and developmental psychology. While there is evidence that adult humans encode the entire boundary shape of an environment (a global-shape representation), there are also data demonstrating that organisms reorient using only segments of the boundary that signal a goal location (a local-shape representation). Developmental studies offer unique insights into this debate; however, most studies have used designs that cannot dissociate the type of boundary-shape representation that children use to guide reorientation. Thus, we examined the developmental trajectories of children's reorientation according to local and global boundary shape. Participants aged 6-12 years were trained to find a goal hidden in one corner of a virtual arena, after which they were required to reorient in a novel test arena. From 10.5 years, children performed above chance when the test arena permitted reorientation based only on local-shape (Experiment 2), or only global-shape (Experiment 3) information. Moreover, when these responses were placed into conflict, older children reoriented with respect to global-shape information (Experiment 4). These age-related findings were not due to older children being better able to reorient in virtual environments per se: when trained and tested within the same environment (Experiment 1), children performed above chance from 6 years. Together, our results suggest (a) the ability to reorient on the basis of global- and local-shape representations develops in parallel, and (b) shape-based information is weighted to determine which representation informs reorientation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
... Ultimately, the authors concluded that perspective taking ability was most predictive of individual differences in performance. Spatial skills are known to be malleable (Baenninger and Newcombe, 1989;Voyer et al., 2000;Uttal et al., 2013;Jirout and Newcombe, 2015;Lauer et al., 2019), so it is possible that differences in spatial experiences underlie the sex difference reported here. However, the current study did not assess spatial ability, spatial experience, or video game experience. ...
Article
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Virtual reality users are susceptible to disorientation, particularly when using locomotion interfaces that lack self-motion cues. Environmental cues, such as boundaries defined by walls or a fence, provide information to help the user remain oriented. This experiment evaluated whether the type of boundary impacts its usefulness for staying oriented. Participants wore a head-mounted display and performed a triangle completion task in virtual reality by traveling two outbound path segments before attempting to point to the path origin. The task was completed with two teleporting interfaces differing in the availability of rotational self-motion cues, and within five virtual environments differing in the availability and type of boundaries. Pointing errors were highest in an open field without environmental cues, and lowest in a classroom with walls and landmarks. Environments with a single square boundary defined by a fence, drop-off, or floor texture discontinuity led to errors in between the open field and the classroom. Performance with the floor texture discontinuity was similar to that with navigational barriers (i.e., fence and drop-off), indicating that an effective barrier need not be a navigational impediment. These results inform spatial cognitive theory about boundary-based navigation and inform application by specifying the types of environmental and self-motion cues that designers of virtual environments should include to reduce disorientation in virtual reality.
... Unlike other studies that have documented early sex differences in a variety of phenomena including toy preferences (Todd et al., 2018) and spatial abilities (Lauer et al., 2019), here we find no evidence for sex differences in infants' and toddlers' preference for prosocial agents. Our findings suggest that both male and female infants and toddlers tend to prefer prosocial over antisocial agents, and do so to a similar extent. ...
Article
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Can well-documented gender differences in evaluations of prosocial vs. antisocial actions found in childhood and adulthood be traced to sex differences in basic sociomoral preferences in infancy? We provide an answer to this question by meta-analyzing sex differences in preference for prosocial over antisocial agents in a set of 53 samples of American and European infants and toddlers aged between four and 32 months (N = 1,094). Although the original studies were agnostic to sex differences, we were able to retrieve the original datasets and estimate the effect of infants’ and toddlers’ sex on sociomoral preferences. Employing both a standard frequentist and a Bayesian approach to meta-analysis, we found strong evidence supporting the absence of sex differences in sociomoral preferences among infants and toddlers. We discuss the relevance of this finding for theories and descriptions of the emergence and developmental trajectory of gender differences in morality.
... Dual-processing theory argues that intuition, also known as 'gut feeling', is rapid, unconscious, and not limited by cognitive resources (Evans, 2010). Previous studies have suggested that there were gender differences in the use of intuition, and found that women self-reported more intuition in tasks such as mathematical reasoning (Kadarisma et al., 2019) and spatial reasoning tasks (Lauer et al., 2019). Compared to men, women also reported to have better access to their gut feeling when making decisions (Sinclair & Ashkanasy, 2005). ...
Article
Gender differences in intuition remain debatable. Previous research found an intuitive bias for women, but women's intuitive decision-makings sometimes were accurate. This study investigated behavioral and neural patterns of gender differences in intuition using the Embedded Chinese Character Task (ECCT) with event-related potentials. Participants judged whether a target character was included in a test character, which required either an intuitive process (the two characters were spatially separated/adjacent) or an analytical process (target characters were embedded in test characters). Women exhibited shorter reaction times and higher accuracy in intuitive materials for both inclusion and exclusion conditions. They elicited a larger P3b component with stronger parietal alpha power activity in the inclusion condition, and a larger P3b component in intuitive materials than men, indicating female preference for intuitive thinking in ECCT. Men elicited a larger N2 component with weaker parietal alpha power activity in the inclusion condition, indicating their preference for deliberative thinking in ECCT. The stereotype that women make wrong choices through intuitive thinking did not hold; instead, women demonstrated higher accuracy and faster speed than men in ECCT through intuition. The neural mechanism of gender difference in non-mathematic intuition is explained.
... Participants completed an online version of the Vandenburg and Kuse (1978) Mental Rotations Test (MRT) that was developed by Mitko and Fisher (2020). The Mental Rotations Test is one of the most widely used spatial skills assessments in psychology and education (Lauer et al., 2019;Uttal & Cohen, 2012). In each item of this measure, five-line drawings of 3D forms similar to those used by Shepard and Metzler (1971) were presented. ...
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Spatial skills are critical for student success in K-12 STEM education. Teachers’ spatial skills and feelings about completing spatial tasks influence students’ spatial and STEM learning at both the primary and secondary levels. However, whether spatial skills and spatial anxiety differ or not between these two teacher levels is unknown. Additionally, the relations between teachers’ spatial skills, spatial anxiety, and their use of spatial pedagogical practices in remote learning settings is unknown. Here, we investigated if spatial skills and spatial anxiety differ between teachers working at primary versus secondary levels, and examined the relations between their spatial skills and spatial anxiety while accounting for additional influential factors—general reasoning ability and general anxiety. Lastly, we investigated how teachers’ spatial skills in conjunction with their spatial anxiety relate to their use of spatial teaching practices for online instruction. Sixty-two K-12 teachers completed measures of spatial skills, spatial anxiety, general anxiety, general reasoning, and a teaching activities questionnaire. Results indicate that spatial skills and spatial anxiety may not vary between teachers working at primary versus secondary levels, but that higher spatial skills in teachers are associated with lower spatial anxiety for mental manipulation tasks. Additionally, teachers with weaker spatial skills and lower mental manipulation anxiety reported more frequently using spatial teaching practices when teaching remotely due to COVID-19. These findings may have broad implications for teacher professional development with regards to developing students’ spatial skills during remote learning.
... Ultimately, the authors concluded that perspective taking ability was most predictive of individual differences in performance. Spatial skills are known to be malleable (Baenninger and Newcombe, 1989;Voyer et al., 2000;Uttal et al., 2013;Jirout and Newcombe, 2015;Lauer et al., 2019), so it is possible that differences in spatial experiences underlie the sex difference reported here. However, the current study did not assess spatial ability, spatial experience, or video game experience. ...
Preprint
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Virtual reality users are susceptible to disorientation, particularly when using locomotion interfaces that lack self-motion cues. Environmental cues, such as boundaries defined by walls or a fence, provide information to help the user remain oriented. This experiment evaluated whether the type of boundary impacts its usefulness for staying oriented. Participants wore a head-mounted display and performed a triangle completion task in virtual reality by traveling two outbound path segments before attempting to point to the path origin. The task was completed with two teleporting interfaces differing in the availability of rotational self-motion cues, and within five virtual environments differing in the availability and type of boundaries. Pointing errors were highest in an open field without environmental cues, and lowest in a classroom with walls and landmarks. Environments with a single square boundary defined by a fence, drop-off, or floor texture discontinuity led to errors in between the open field and the classroom. Performance with the floor texture discontinuity was similar to that with navigational barriers (i.e., fence and drop-off), indicating that an effective barrier need not be a navigational impediment. These results inform spatial cognitive theory about boundary-based navigation and inform application by specifying the types of environmental and self-motion cues that designers of virtual environments should include to reduce disorientation in virtual reality.
... First, given that men tend to exhibit greater preferences for learning physics compared to women (Fox & Stephan, 2001;Stark & Gray, 1999), men may spend more time studying these subjects. Men also tend to show greater spatial reasoning abilities than women (Lauer et al., 2019), which may explain greater preferences for learning physics, as well as greater performance on these types of problems. Gender DIF may also be the result of gender discrimination, as teachers tend to perceive women as having lower math ability than men (Moss-Racusin et al., 2012;Tiedemann, 2002). ...
Article
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Test developers and psychometricians have historically examined measurement bias and differential item functioning (DIF) across a single categorical variable (e.g., gender), independently of other variables (e.g., race, age, etc.). This is problematic when more complex forms of measurement bias may adversely affect test responses and, ultimately, bias test scores. Complex forms of measurement bias include conditional effects, interactions, and mediation of background information on test responses. I propose a multidimensional, person-specific perspective of measurement bias to explain how complex sources of bias can manifest in the assessment of human knowledge, skills, and abilities. I also describe a data-driven approach for identifying key sources of bias among many possibilities—namely, a machine learning method commonly known as regularization.
... Data from the US suggest that nearly half of video game players are women [1], but research also finds that certain play motivations and game genres are sharply divided by gender [2]- [6], though not always following traditional gender stereotypes [7]. Some argue that such divisions are based on inherent biological characteristics associated with sex, such as spatial rotation ability [8], [9], despite evidence that differences in gaming ability appear to diminish if women and men are given the same amount of time to play [10]- [13]. ...
Article
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This study examines the gender and country differences with respect to a range of gaming motivations (e.g., social, performance, habit) and game genre choices (e.g., action, sports, casual). Surveys were conducted on 634 university students from Singapore, Germany and the US. Overall, the findings suggest that many game motivations and genre choices differ by player gender, country, and the interaction between gender and country in some cases. Further, game motivations and genre choices were related to each other, though sometimes in a negative direction. Finally, differences in gaming motivations, genre choices, and gender, but not the country of residence, were all found to relate to differences in future intention to play. Although these topics have been studied in isolation in previous research, the present study contributes unique insights about the intersections of gender, cultural background, gaming motivations, and genre choices.
... ear 1 were related to their math performance in year 2 and that their math performance in year 2 predicted their spatial abilities in year 3. While there does not appear to be a reliable gender difference in math ability, there does appear to be a reliable gender difference in spatial ability, with males outperforming females (Halpern et al., 2007;Lauer. et al., 2019;Lawton, 1994;Levine et al., 2016;Linn & Petersen, 1985;Voyer et al., 1995;Yuan et al., 2019). ...
Article
Females tend to be more anxious than males while engaging in mathematics, which has been linked to lower math performance and higher math avoidance. A possible repercussion of this gender difference is the underrepresentation of females in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), as math competencies are an essential part of succeeding in such fields. A related, but distinct, area of research suggests that males tend to outperform females in tasks that require spatial processing (i.e., the ability to mentally visualize, rotate, and transform spatial and visual information). Interestingly, factors from the spatial processing domain (spatial ability and spatial anxiety) are important in explaining gender differences in math anxiety. Here, we examined three types of spatial anxiety and ability (imagery, navigation, and manipulation), as well as math ability, as mediators of gender differences in math anxiety. Undergraduate students (125 male; 286 female) completed assessments of their general level of anxiety, their math anxiety, and their spatial anxiety. They also completed a series of tasks measuring their mathematical skill, their spatial skills, and basic demographics. Results suggest that manipulation anxiety and ability, navigation anxiety, and math ability explained the gender difference in math anxiety, but manipulation anxiety was the strongest mediator of this relation. Conversely, all other measures did not explain the gender difference in math anxiety. These findings help us better understand the gender difference in mathematics, and this is important in reducing the gender gap in STEM fields. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Recent research has shown that sex/gender (s/g) influences on cognitive functions and related brain anatomy, functional responses, and connectivity are less clear than previously assumed, and most studies investigated adult population. In this mini‐review, we summarize research progress in the study of s/g differences in the human brain function as investigated by neuroimaging methods adopting a developmental perspective. In particular, we review original studies published from 2000 to 2021 investigating s/g differences in task‐related brain functional activation and connectivity in healthy children and adolescents. We summarize results about studies in the domains of language, visuospatial ability, social cognition, and executive functions. Overall, a clear relation between cognition and brain activation or connectivity pattern is far from being established and the few coherent results should be considered exploratory, despite in some cases, brain function seems to present specific patterns in comparison with what reported in adults. Moreover, future studies should address methodological limitations, such as fragmentation of tasks, lack of control for confounding variables, and lack of longitudinal designs to study developmental trajectories.
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Sexual orientation is a core aspect of human experience and understanding its development is fundamental to psychology as a scientific discipline. Biological perspectives have played an important role in helping to uncover the processes that contribute to sexual orientation development. Research in this field has relied on a variety of populations, including community, clinical, and cross-cultural samples, and has commonly focused on female gynephilia (i.e., female sexual attraction to adult females) and male androphilia (i.e., male sexual attraction to adult males). Genetic, hormonal, and immunological processes all appear to influence sexual orientation. Consistent with biological perspectives, there are sexual orientation differences in brain development and evidence indicates that similar biological influences apply across cultures. An outstanding question in the field is whether the hypothesized biological influences are all part of the same process or represent different developmental pathways leading to same-sex sexual orientation. Some studies indicate that same-sex sexually oriented people can be divided into subgroups who likely experienced different biological influences. Consideration of gender expression in addition to sexual orientation might help delineate such subgroups. Thus, future research on the possible existence of such subgroups could prove to be valuable for uncovering the biological development of sexual orientation. Recommendations for such future research are discussed.KeywordsSexual orientationDevelopmentGeneticsSex hormonesMaternal immune hypothesisGender expression
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Written for pre-service and in-service educators, as well as parents of children in preschool through grade five, this book connects research in cognitive development and math education to offer an accessibly written and practical introduction to the science of elementary math learning. Structured according to children's mathematical development, How Children Learn Math systematically reviews and synthesizes the latest developmental research on mathematical cognition into accessible sections that explain both the scientific evidence available and its practical classroom application. Written by an author team with decades of collective experience in cognitive learning research, clinical learning evaluations, and classroom experience working with both teachers and children, this amply illustrated text offers a powerful resource for understanding children's mathematical development, from quantitative intuition to word problems, and helps readers understand and identify math learning difficulties that may emerge in later grades. Aimed at pre-service and in-service teachers and educators with little background in cognitive development, the book distills important findings in cognitive development into clear, accessible language and practical suggestions. The book therefore serves as an ideal text for pre-service early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers, as well as early career researchers, or as a professional development resource for in-service teachers, supervisors and administrators, school psychologists, homeschool parents, and other educators.
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This review examines the relationship between spatial abilities and students' mathematics achievements and the neurobiological substrates underlying their association. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies suggested a positive association between spatial and math skills, while the relationship may vary depending on the participants' age or grade. Although numerous researchers claimed that in-class or out-of-class spatial training programmes enhance students' mathematics achievements over the past decade, few studies could reveal the mechanisms for the transfer effects. Based on neuroimaging evidence, the intraparietal sulcus is one of the most robust brain regions related to both spatial and math skills, indicating that the two skills may share some mental processes. These neural and cognitive results provide grounds for educational interventions. Further studies employing complex math skills will provide opportunities to guide classroom teaching practices.
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Low vitamin D is linked to major depressive disorder (MDD) through affecting the brain. Gender difference is apparent in MDD and vitamin D level. We aimed to examine the association between gender, vitamin D, clinical presentations, and brain functional connectivity in a large cohort of MDD patients and comparison subjects. Resting-state functional MRI data from 122 patients and 119 controls were collected to perform a combined analysis of functional connectivity density (FCD) and seed-based functional connectivity (FC). Peripheral venous blood samples were obtained to measure serum concentration of vitamin D (SCVD). Clinical presentations (symptoms profiles and cognition) were also assessed. We found an interaction of group and gender on SCVD in which MDD patients demonstrated lower SCVD than controls in females rather than males. Concurrently, lower SCVD was associated with worse cognitive performance (prospective memory and sustained attention). Compared with controls, female MDD patients showed reduced FCD and FC of the left middle frontal gyrus, which were related to lower SCVD. Importantly, these FCD and FC changes mediated the relationship between lower SCVD and cognitive dysfunction. Our findings suggest that functional connectivity abnormalities may serve as neural substrates underlying the associations between low vitamin D and cognitive impairments in female MDD patients, providing unique insight into treatment and prevention of MDD and its related cognitive dysfunction from the perspective of regulating circulating vitamin D.
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Men usually outperform women in psychometric mental rotation tests with cube figures. This advantage could be pronounced due to the male stereotyped rotational objects. The present study aims to investigate whether gender differences in favor of men are absent when the stimuli are less male stereotyped. Therefore, 112 participants solved three psychometric mental rotation tests with cube figures colored in pink, blue, and grey. Men outperformed women independent of stimulus color. In the pink and the grey version of the test, participants with beliefs of spatial abilities as masculine performed better than those with feminine beliefs. The mental rotation test performance with pink figures was predicted by gender and gender stereotypes in spatial abilities. In the blue and grey version, gender and self-rated spatial abilities predicted the performance. It can be assumed that the stereotype activation by stimulus color was not sufficient to influence the performance.
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Visuospatial functions are particularly vulnerable to the aging process. Decline of these processes can seriously affect an individual's functional independence and quality of life. Effectively assessing the spatial abilities of older adults is, therefore, crucial for identifying strategies to maintain cognitive functioning. The purpose of the present study was to use ecological tasks more comparable to activities of daily living to assess spatial ability in older adults. Three hands-on tasks (a visual search task, a low-and a high-mental rotation demand tasks) and a version of the well-known paper-based mental rotation of figures test (Shepard and Metzler, Science 171(3972):701-703, 1971) were given to 60-79-year-old female and male participants. The hands-on tasks required participants to locate, manipulate, and arrange real objects (i.e., toy bricks) in space. Age had a negative impact on visual search but not on mental rotation ability. Male participants outperformed females in the mental rotation tasks, but a trend for the opposite (better performance by females) was found for the visual search task. The results suggest that spatial abilities are not a monolithic construct and that sub-categories of this construct are affected by age and by sex differently. While visual search function is susceptible to decline during old age, mental rotation ability is not. In addition, unlike the paper-based test, the hands-on tasks were found to be age-appropriate with a feasible level of difficulty for all participants. The hands-on tasks may be more appealing as a tool to evaluate, maintain, and/or enhance spatial function in older adults.
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Spatial ability plays important roles in academic learning and everyday activities. A type of spatial thinking that is of particular significance to people's daily lives is cognitive mapping, that is, the process of acquiring, representing, and using knowledge about spatial environments. However, the skill of cognitive mapping shows large individual differences, and the task of spatial orientation and navigation poses great difficulty for some people. In this article, I look at the motivation and findings in the research into spatial knowledge acquisition from an individual differences perspective. I also discuss major implications of the existence of large individual differences, particularly the possibility of improving cognitive mapping by training and adjusting navigation assistance to the wide variations in spatial aptitudes and preferences among people.
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Block building—a prevalent play activity—allows children to practice and develop spatial skills, including learning about the intrinsic properties and extrinsic spatial relations of blocks. Performance on block building taps individual differences in spatial skill and relates to later science and math skills. However, studies of block building typically ignore moment-to-moment block-building behaviors, and rarely target children from diverse backgrounds. We observed the real-time block-building behaviors of 120 5-year-olds from African American, Dominican, Mexican, and Chinese backgrounds as they attempted to replicate 3D block structures built by a researcher. For each structure, we coded time spent building, attention to the target structure, alignment of structure with the target, intrinsic and extrinsic errors, and final success. Alignment and checking related to low errors and high success, with Chinese children showing the most alignment, checking, and success. Shifting attention from “performance” to “process” sheds light on real-time learning during spatial tasks.
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Real-life outcomes for men and women suggest the existence of cognitive sex differences, but the evidence for a sex difference in general intelligence is equivocal. Here, we examine the role of spatial ability for IQ test performance, in light of the developmental hypothesis that male performance increases more than female across adolescence. Using longitudinal data from Block and Block data set on the Wechsler scales and the rod-and-frame test (RFT) for ages 4 (N = 108), 11 (N = 101), and 18 years (N = 100), we find that males' performance becomes greater than females' with age, both on IQ and the RFT. At 18 years of age, males' mean IQ and RFT score was 116.4 and 4.05 (lower scores representing less error), as compared to111.5 and 7.85 for females. Importantly, we found that the RFT mediates the sex difference in IQ, and that the factor loadings of the RFT on the g factor increases with age, from −0.06 at age 4 to −0.52 at 11 and −0.67 at age 18. In conclusion, g becomes more integrative of spatial ability across time and this finding may explain sex differences in g after puberty and potentially has interesting implications for the understanding of the development of intelligence. One important direction for future research is to incorporate biologically based pubertal neural changes into our understanding of developmental sex differences in intelligence.
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Older female drivers could be considered victims of negative stereotypes for two reasons-being a woman and belonging to the older category-but there are no studies specifically in this double context. Two psychosocial questionnaires were created, one assessing the perception of driving abilities in different contexts (PDADC); the second, the perception of the attributes of driving (PAD) with a box for the activation of the stereotype threat. A population of 98 women, aged 65 years or older, comprised the experimental and control groups (quasi-experimental design). This study provides knowledge about the driving feelings of this population who appears, globally, as comfortable at the wheel and "immune" to stereotyping.
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The mental rotation task is a particular spatial skill that helps people process visual information and is associated with intelligence and academic performance. Previous studies have found consistent sex difference in mental rotation. However, the neural mechanism of the sex-related difference in mental rotation remains unclear. This study investigates the association between sex, mental rotation and the functional connectivity (FC) of resting-state networks (RSNs) to explore neural correlates of different mental rotation abilities between males and females. Compared with females, males performed better on the mental rotation test. The mental rotation scores were significantly correlated with the special FC between the default mode network (DMN) and salience network (SN). The results of the mediation analysis revealed that the special FC between the DMN and SN mediated the association between sex and mental rotation. Based on these findings, males had higher FC between the DMN and SN, which subsequently promoted their mental rotation performance. These results emphasized the importance of sex in spatial cognition studies of both healthy people and individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders and deepened our understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying sex difference in mental rotation.
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Spatial skills are a strong predictor of achievement and pursuit of employment in STEM fields. However, some individuals experience anxiety arising from situations that require performing spatial tasks in an evaluative context, and as a result, may avoid spatial related mental activities and exposure to spatially relevant experiences. We sought to generate and validate an instrument capable of reliably measuring individual differences in experiences of spatial anxiety. We developed a spatial anxiety data-driven approach, wherein an exploratory factor analysis was conducted within the framework for different types of spatial skills outlined by Uttal et al. (2013; https://doi.org/10.1037/a0028446). In Study 1, factor analyses revealed that items loaded on three factors that corresponded well with some of the most common spatial abilities that have been discussed in the broader literature: navigation, mental-manipulation and imagery. The three subscales were high in internal reliability and between-scale selectivity. Study 2 then established that external validity was good for the navigation and manipulation subscales: higher anxiety ratings uniquely predicted lower objective performance and lower attitude/ability ratings on established measures within the respective subdomains. External validity was acceptable for the imagery subscale, uniquely predicting lower attitude/ability ratings on an established spatial imagery questionnaire. The overall result is an empirically validated Spatial Anxiety scale for use with adults that also respects the multifaceted nature of spatial processing. This questionnaire has the potential to provide a more comprehensive screening tool for spatial anxiety, and is a step toward identifying potential barriers to STEM education.
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Mathematical and spatial reasoning abilities during childhood predict later success in male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines, yet relatively little is known about the affective correlates of children’s math and spatial performance or gender differences therein. In the present research, we assessed math and spatial anxiety in 394 elementary-school children (ages 6 to 12 years) and investigated their relations to math achievement and spatial reasoning performance, respectively. In addition, we evaluated children’s verbal anxiety and reading ability to determine the domain specificity of relations between anxiety and cognitive performance during childhood. At the zero-order level, math, spatial, and verbal anxiety were moderately correlated with one another and with children’s performance in the corresponding cognitive domains. Importantly, however, all three forms of anxiety displayed some domain specificity in their relations to cognitive performance. Gender differences in math and spatial anxiety were also domain-specific, with girls reporting significantly greater math and spatial anxiety, but not verbal anxiety, across the age range tested. These results demonstrate that math and spatial anxiety represent unique constructs early in development, exhibiting specificity in their associations with gender and cognitive performance during the first years of formal schooling.
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Background: Prior longitudinal and correlational research with adults and adolescents indicates that spatial ability is a predictor of science learning and achievement. However, there is little research to date with primary-school aged children that addresses this relationship. Understanding this association has the potential to inform curriculum design and support the development of early interventions. Aims: This study examined the relationship between primary-school children's spatial skills and their science achievement. Method: Children aged 7-11 years (N = 123) completed a battery of five spatial tasks, based on a model of spatial ability in which skills fall along two dimensions: intrinsic-extrinsic; static-dynamic. Participants also completed a curriculum-based science assessment. Results: Controlling for verbal ability and age, mental folding (intrinsic-dynamic spatial ability), and spatial scaling (extrinsic-static spatial ability) each emerged as unique predictors of overall science scores, with mental folding a stronger predictor than spatial scaling. These spatial skills combined accounted for 8% of the variance in science scores. When considered by scientific discipline, mental folding uniquely predicted both physics and biology scores, and spatial scaling accounted for additional variance in biology and variance in chemistry scores. The children's embedded figures task (intrinsic-static spatial ability) only accounted for variance in chemistry scores. The patterns of association were consistent across the age range. Conclusion: Spatial skills, particularly mental folding, spatial scaling, and disembedding, are predictive of 7- to 11-year-olds' science achievement. These skills make a similar contribution to performance for each age group.
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We review and evaluate selection methods, a prominent class of techniques first proposed by Hedges (1984) that assess and adjust for publication bias in meta-analysis, via an extensive simulation study. Our simulation covers both restrictive settings as well as more realistic settings and proceeds across multiple metrics that assess different aspects of model performance. This evaluation is timely in light of two recently proposed approaches, the so-called p-curve and p-uniform approaches, that can be viewed as alternative implementations of the original Hedges selection method approach. We find that the p-curve and p-uniform approaches perform reasonably well but not as well as the original Hedges approach in the restrictive setting for which all three were designed. We also find they perform poorly in more realistic settings, whereas variants of the Hedges approach perform well. We conclude by urging caution in the application of selection methods: Given the idealistic model assumptions underlying selection methods and the sensitivity of population average effect size estimates to them, we advocate that selection methods should be used less for obtaining a single estimate that purports to adjust for publication bias ex post and more for sensitivity analysis—that is, exploring the range of estimates that result from assuming different forms of and severity of publication bias.
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This study introduces the new Rotated Colour Cube Test (RCCT) as a measure of object identification and mental rotation using single 3D colour cube images in a matching-to-sample procedure. One hundred 7- to 11-year-old children were tested with aligned or rotated cube models, distracters and targets. While different orientations of distracters made the RCCT more difficult, different colours of distracters had the opposite effect and made the RCCT easier because colour facilitated clearer discrimination between target and distracters. Ten-year-olds performed significantly better than 7- to 8-year-olds. The RCCT significantly correlated with children’s performance on the Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices Test (RCPM) presumably due to the shared multiple-choice format, but the RCCT was easier, as it did not require sequencing. Children from families with a high socio-economic status performed best on both tests, with boys outperforming girls on the more difficult RCCT test sections.
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Accumulating evidence suggests that males outperform females on mental rotation tasks as early as infancy. Sex differences in object preference have also been shown to emerge early in development and precede sex-typed play in childhood. Although research with adults and older children is suggestive of a relationship between play preferences and visuospatial abilities, including mental rotation, little is known about the developmental origins of this relationship. The present study compared mental rotation ability and object preference in 6- to 13-month-old infants. We used a novel paradigm to examine individual differences in infants' mental rotation abilities as well as their differential preference for one of two sex-typed objects. A sex difference was found on both tasks, with boys showing an advantage in performance on the mental rotation task and exhibiting greater visual attention to the male-typed object (i.e., a toy truck) than to the female-typed object (i.e., a doll) in comparison to girls. Moreover, we found a relation between mental rotation and object preference that varied by sex. Greater visual interest in the male-typed object was related to greater mental rotation performance in boys, but not in girls. Possible explanations related to perceptual biases, prenatal androgen exposure, and experiential influences for this sex difference are discussed.
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Mental rotation (MR) of body parts is a useful paradigm to investigate how people manipulate mental imagery related to body schema. It has been documented that adult participants use 'motor imagery' for MR of hands: a behavioural indication is a biomechanical effect, that is, hand pictures in orientations to which imitative hand movement would be biomechanically difficult require longer response times to be visually identified as the left or right hand. However, little is known about the typical developmental trajectory of the biomechanical effect, which could offer clues to understanding how children acquire the ability to manipulate body schema. This study investigated developmental changes in the biomechanical effect in schoolchildren. Eighty-four children (from 6 to 11 years old, grouped into 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders) and fifteen adults made hand laterality judgements in an MR paradigm. The results indicated that the biomechanical effect is stronger for younger children, and that there is a transitional period (around 7-8 years) during which children shift from action execution to imagery in manipulating body schema. The results suggest that mental imagery of hands has a stronger motor aspect in the transitional period than later in childhood and adulthood.
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Mental representation and transformation of spatial information is often examined with mental rotation (MR) tasks, which require deciding whether a rotated image is the same as or the mirror version of an upright image. Recent research with infants shows early discrimination of objects from mirror-image versions. However, even at the age of 4 years, many children perform at near chance level on more standard measures. Similar age discrepancies can be observed in other domains, including perspective taking, theory of mind, and intuitive physics. These paradoxical results raise the questions of how performance relates to competence and how to conceptualize developmental change. There may be a common underlying mechanism: the development of the ability to imagine things and mentally transform them in a prospective fashion.
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This article presents a reanalysis of the data of 862 second and fourth graders collected in two previous studies, focusing on the influence of method (psychometric vs. chronometric) and stimulus type on the gender difference in mental-rotation accuracy. The children had to solve mental-rotation tasks with animal pictures, letters, or cube figures, either in a chronometric condition (computerized) or in a psychometric condition (paper-and-pencil). Results show a slight male advantage in mental-rotation accuracy, which is neither influenced by method nor by stimulus type. However, mental-rotation accuracy differed between the stimulus types, with the highest accuracy in animal pictures and the lowest accuracy in cube figures, and between age groups, with better performance in fourth graders than in second graders in both conditions. Results show that psychometric and chronometric mental-rotation tests with all the stimulus types are more or less similarly usable with children of that age.
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This meta-analysis was conducted to estimate the magnitude of gender difference in three-dimensional (3-D) mental rotation ability and to investigate how factors related to test administration conditions play a role in varying gender difference effect sizes and threatening validity. Individuals’ 3-D mental rotation ability was measured by the Purdue Spatial Visualization Tests: Visualization of Rotations (PSVT:R). We integrated 70 effect sizes of gender differences in mental rotation ability measured by the PSVT:R which were obtained from 40 primary studies. The results indicated that male participants outperformed females on the test (Hedges’ g = 0.57). The I 2 statistic indicated 41.7 % of variation in effect sizes reflects real heterogeneity. The moderator analysis indicated that male superiority on spatial ability tasks measured by the PSVT:R is related to the implementation of time limits. The gender difference became larger when stringent time limits (equal or less than 30 s per item) were implemented.
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We assessed 3- to 5-year-olds’ mental rotation abilities using a new puzzle paradigm. It allows for assessment of mental rotation abilities in children younger than 5 years, using a task comparable to ones used with older children and adults. Children saw pairs of asymmetrical ghost figures, either as three-dimensional cut-outs or two-dimensional paper versions, in seven orientations. One of the ghosts fit into a hole if rotated right-side up – the other ghost was its mirror image and would not fit. Children were asked to turn the ghosts in their heads and choose the one that would fit into the hole. The number of children who chose the correct ghost above chance in the three-dimensional version of the task increased dramatically from 10% of 3-year-olds to 95% of 5-year-olds; average accuracy also increased significantly, from 54% to 83%. The two-dimensional paper version yielded similar results. These results indicate considerable development in mental rotation between 3 and 5 years.
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The neural efficiency hypothesis postulates a more efficient use of brain resources in more intelligent people as compared to less intelligent ones. However, this relationship was found to be moderated by sex and task content. While the phenomenon of neural efficiency was previously supported for men when performing visuo-spatial tasks it occurred for women only when performing verbal tasks. One possible explanation for this finding could be provided by the well-studied phenomenon called stereotype threat. Stereotype threat arises when a negative stereotype of one's own group is made salient and can result in behavior that confirms the stereotype. Overall, 32 boys and 31 girls of varying intellectual ability were tested with a mental rotation task, either under a stereotype exposure or a no-stereotype exposure condition while measuring their EEG. The behavioral results show that an activated negative stereotype not necessarily hampers the performance of girls. Physiologically, a confirmation of the neural efficiency phenomenon was only obtained for boys working under a no-stereotype exposure condition. This result pattern replicates previous findings without threat and thus suggests that sex differences in neural efficiency during visuo-spatial tasks may not be due to the stereotype threat effect.
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The aim of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of Google SketchUp, which is a computer aided design (CAD) software, on the Mental Rotation Skills of eighth grade students. For this purpose, in the spring semester of the 2011-2012 academic year, a treatment was conducted with 62 students comprised of 8A and 8B classes in the GSD Education Foundation Bahçelievler Primary School during the six weeks. The study was carried out in accordance with a quasi-experimental research with pretest and posttest design. The “Vandenberg Mental Rotation Test” was used to determine mental rotation skills of the students, participating the research study, as a pretest and posttest. When pretest results examined with independent samples t-test, a significant difference was found in favor of the class 8B. During the four weeks, the students in the control group tried to draw the different view of unit cube models developed by researchers on an isometric paper. In the same duration, the students in the experimental group tried to draw same models with the help of Google SketchUp software. At the end of the four weeks, the Mental Rotation Test was re-conducted for participants as a posttest. Although the increase in the mean scores of mental rotation test is higher in the experimental group, the ANCOVA results revealed that, there is no significant difference between the mean scores of the Mental Rotation Test of the experimental and control groups.
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Despite considerable interest in the role of spatial intelligence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, little is known about the ontogenetic origins of individual differences in spatial aptitude or their relation to later STEM achievement. The current study provides evidence that spatial processes present in infancy predict inter-individual variation in both spatial and mathematical competence later in development. Using a longitudinal design, we found that children’s performance on a brief visuospatial change detection task administered between 6 and 13 months of age related to their spatial aptitude (i.e., mental transformation skill) and mastery of symbolic math concepts at 4 years of age, even when controlling for general cognitive abilities and spatial memory. These results suggest that nascent spatial processes present in the first year of life not only act as precursors to later spatial intelligence but also predict math achievement during childhood.
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A meta-analysis of 224 effect sizes (d) drawn from 86 studies examined the relationship between gender, stereotype manipulations, and math and spatial performance. Stereotype manipulations were analyzed separately as a function of gender (threat to males, threat to females, lift for males, lift for females). Only the threat to females grouping (d = 0.29) showed a mean effect size that was significantly different from zero, indicating significant deleterious effects of stereotype threat instructions. Analyses for the threat to females and lift for females categories in an attempt to account for significant variability in these groupings showed that task, sex of experimenter, and control group type accounted for significant variance in effect sizes. Essentially, the effects of stereotype threat on women can be interpreted as relatively small but significant in math performance, but non-significant in spatial performance. Implications for interpretations of gender differences in math and spatial performance are discussed.