Mental rotation validation of two spatial ability tests
- Cite this article as:
- Petrusic, W.M., Varro, L. & Jamieson, D.G. Psychol. Res (1978) 40: 139. doi:10.1007/BF00308409
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Three tests of spatial ability — speeded mental rotation and the Card Rotation and Revised Minnesota Form Board Tests — were examined with 32 college students. The slope of the linear function relating response time to angle of rotation in the mental rotation task was stimulus-dependent, increasing with stimulus symmetry. Males strongly dominated females on the Card Rotation Test and in speed of mental rotation, but not on the Minnesota Form Board Test or in the intercept of the judgment-time by angle-of-rotation plot. Practice with the simple forms used in the mental rotation task substantially improved scores with the many more complex forms used in the Card Rotation Test, but did not improve scores on the Minnesota Form Board Test. These results are not due to speed-accuracy tradeoff strategy differences. They suggest that “spatial ability” is not unitary and that test-based sex differences in spatial ability largely reflect differences in rotation speed or in a factor underlying rotation speed.