Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 235–249 | Cite as

Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences in Cognition Across Adulthood: Age Is Kinder to Women than to Men Regardless of Sexual Orientation

  • Elizabeth A. MaylorEmail author
  • Stian Reimers
  • Jean Choi
  • Marcia L. Collaer
  • Michael Peters
  • Irwin Silverman
Original Paper


Despite some evidence of greater age-related deterioration of the brain in males than in females, gender differences in rates of cognitive aging have proved inconsistent. The present study employed web-based methodology to collect data from people aged 20–65 years (109,612 men; 88,509 women). As expected, men outperformed women on tests of mental rotation and line angle judgment, whereas women outperformed men on tests of category fluency and object location memory. Performance on all tests declined with age but significantly more so for men than for women. Heterosexuals of each gender generally outperformed bisexuals and homosexuals on tests where that gender was superior; however, there were no clear interactions between age and sexual orientation for either gender. At least for these particular tests from young adulthood to retirement, age is kinder to women than to men, but treats heterosexuals, bisexuals, and homosexuals just the same.


Gender Sexual orientation Cognition Aging Internet 



The first and second authors contributed equally to the preparation of this article. We are grateful to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for their extensive collaboration on this project, and to Qazi Rahman and Friederike Schlaghecken for helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Maylor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stian Reimers
    • 2
  • Jean Choi
    • 3
  • Marcia L. Collaer
    • 4
  • Michael Peters
    • 5
  • Irwin Silverman
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada
  4. 4.Department of Psychology and Program in NeuroscienceMiddlebury CollegeMiddleburyUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyYork UniversityNorth YorkCanada

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