Psychological Research PRPF

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 429–435 | Cite as

Sex differences in parking are affected by biological and social factors

  • Claudia C. WolfEmail author
  • Sebastian Ocklenburg
  • Beyza Ören
  • Cordula Becker
  • Andrea Hofstätter
  • Christa Bös
  • Markus Popken
  • Truls ThorstensenEmail author
  • Onur Güntürkün
Original Article


The stereotype of women’s limited parking skills is deeply anchored in modern culture. Although laboratory tests prove men’s average superiority in visuospatial tasks and parking requires complex, spatial skills, underlying mechanisms remain unexplored. Here, we investigated performance of beginners (nine women, eight men) and more experienced drivers (21 women, 27 men) at different parking manoeuvres. Furthermore, subjects conducted the mental rotation test and self-assessed their parking skills. We show that men park more accurately and especially faster than women. Performance is related to mental rotation skills and self-assessment in beginners, but only to self-assessment in more experienced drivers. We assume that, due to differential feedback, self-assessment incrementally replaces the controlling influence of mental rotation, as parking is trained with increasing experience. Results suggest that sex differences in spatial cognition persist in real-life situations, but that socio-psychological factors modulate the biological causes of sex differences.


Mental Rotation Parking Space Spatial Skill Experienced Driver Mental Rotation Test 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Ralf Rupprath from aps Abschlepp-Pannen-Service Bochum for providing junk cars and Tobias Otto for technical help.

Supplementary material

Supplementary material 1 (MPG 11694 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (MPG 81362 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claudia C. Wolf
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sebastian Ocklenburg
    • 1
  • Beyza Ören
    • 1
  • Cordula Becker
    • 1
  • Andrea Hofstätter
    • 2
  • Christa Bös
    • 2
  • Markus Popken
    • 3
  • Truls Thorstensen
    • 2
    Email author
  • Onur Güntürkün
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biopsychology, Faculty of Psychology, Institute of Cognitive NeuroscienceRuhr-University BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.EFS Unternehmensberatung GesmbHViennaAustria
  3. 3.Audi AG, Auto-Union-StraßeIngolstadtGermany

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