, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 444-448

The gender difference on the Mental Rotations test is not due to performance factors

Abstract

Men score higher than women on the Mental Rotations test (MRT), and the magnitude of this gender difference is the largest of that on any spatial test. Goldstein, Haldane, and Mitchell (1990) reported finding that the gender difference on the MRT disappears when “performance factors” are controlled— specifically, when subjects are allowed sufficient time to attempt all items on the test or when a scoring procedure that controls for the number of items attempted is used. The present experiment also explored whether eliminating these performance factors results in a disappearance of the gender difference on the test. Male and female college students were allowed a short time period or unlimited time on the MRT. The tests were scored according to three different procedures. The results showed no evidence that the gender difference on the MRT was affected by the scoring method or the time limit. Regardless of the scoring procedure, men scored higher than women, and the magnitude of the gender difference persisted undiminished when subjects completed all items on the test. Thus there was no evidence that performance factors produced the gender difference on the MRT. These results are consistent with the results of other investigators who have attempted to replicate Goldstein et al. ’s findings.