, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 699-709
Date: 18 May 2006

Associations Among Gender-Linked Toy Preferences, Spatial Ability, and Digit Ratio: Evidence from Eye-Tracking Analysis

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Eye-tracking technology was used to monitor eye-movements in 64 adults (age range, 18–22 years) during simultaneous presentation of “masculine” and “feminine” toys. Women and men who showed more visual fixations on male-typical toys compared to female-typical toys had significantly better targeting ability and smaller (i.e., more masculine) digit ratios, a putative marker of prenatal androgen levels. In contrast, individuals with visual preferences for female-typical or male-typical toys did not differ in mental rotations ability and in their retrospective reports of childhood gender-linked activities. The finding that targeting ability and digit ratios varied according to visual preferences for gender-linked toys suggests that prenatal androgens promote enduring preferences for male-typical objects and indicate further that some gender-linked traits vary according to the direction of a visual preference for gender-linked toys. Visual preferences derived from eye-tracking, therefore, may be a useful supplement to current measures of psychosexual differentiation in hormone-behavior research, particularly because eye-movements are not dependent on verbal abilities or subjective evaluations of behavior.