Gender Differences in Mental Rotation

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  • Topic: Gender, Sex, Sexual dimorphism
  • Pages : 8 (2441 words )
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  • Published : April 16, 2007
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Gender Differences in Mental Rotation

The general research topic for this were the sex differences in mental rotation. Twenty- five female students and five male students were assigned to different treatment conditions and were tested on their response time and accuracy in the different mental rotation conditions. It was hypothesized that lateralization between genders would effect the results based on stimulus type. Males were expected to perform better, both in accuracy and speed, with regards to the 2-D shape. On the other hand, females were expected to perform the same as or better than males on the letter ‘R' mental rotational task. In looking at the independent variables being the two task sessions which were the pointed object and the letter R and that second variable being gender many summaries were made. Table one shows that females were faster in their response time than males. Table two shows that females were also just as accurate as males. These results therefore reject the hypothesis previously stated.

Gender Differences in Mental Rotation
Mental rotation is the ability to rotate two and three dimensional figures mentally. The mental rotation theory is the notion that the more degrees an object is physically rotated results in more degrees of mental rotation which consequently leads to longer response times. Roger Shepard, a prominent psychologist, was a notable researcher of mental rotation. In a study executed by Shepard and Metzler (1971), pairs of 2 and 3-D images consisting of shapes and letters were shown to a number of subjects. While viewing the paired objects, subjects were asked to specify if the objects were the same or if they were mirror images of each other. Their investigation revealed reaction times of the subjects distinguishing whether the objects matched or not. The research done by each of these psychologist brought about many findings. It was found that the more an object was rotated in comparison to the original, the longer it took a subject to determine whether or not the objects were indeed the same (Shepard & Metzler, 1971). Further research revealed that the degree to which the object is rotated, rather than the objects axis, had a more substantial effect on an individual's response time (Shepard & Cooper, 1982). Furthermore, by use of the FMRI, psychologists have exposed which parts of the brain contribute to the mental imagery function. Such structures include Brodmann's areas (7A & 7B), the middle frontal gyrus, the frontal cortex, and the hand somastosensory cortex (Cohen, Kosslyn, Breiter, DiGirolamo, Thompson, Anderson, Bookheimer, Rosen, & Belliveau, 1996). Gender difference in mental rotation cognition was a main focus for these studies. There were many different tests done to determine these differences. The purpose of studying gender difference in mental rotation is to determine whether a sex-difference still exists or if it may be diminishing due to our increasingly visual society. Our society has begun to focus on visual learning rather than methodical learning. This can have a major affect on the tests results for this study, if a sex difference exists, it is worth the time to study the difference in cognitive capabilities between males and females. Many studies done in the past have suggested a major difference between the genders. The present knowledge of this matter proposes that males completing mental rotational tasks rely more on right-hemisphere processing than women who are engaged in the same task (Parsons, Larson, Kratz, Thiebaux, Bluestein, Buckwalter, & Rizzo, 2004). It was also found that women performed as well as men despite their lower mean test scores. This finding alludes to the fact that mental rotation ability may not be as crucial for women's navigation as it is for men (Parsons et al., 2004). This study was a replication of previous studies. Previous studies were reviewed to know where to begin....
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