Archives of Sexual Behavior

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 251–260 | Cite as

The Effects of Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Digit Ratio (2D:4D) on Mental Rotation Performance

Original Paper

Abstract

In spite of the reduced level of experimental control, this large scale study brought some clarity into the relation between mental rotation task (MRT) performance and a number of variables where contradictory associations had previously been reported in the literature. Clear sex differences in MRT were observed for a sample of 134,317 men and 120,783 women, with men outperforming women. There were also MRT differences as a function of sexual orientation: heterosexual men performed better than homosexual men and homosexual women performed better than heterosexual women. Although bisexual men performed better than homosexual men but less well than heterosexual men, no significant differences were observed between bisexual and homosexual women. MRT performance in both men and women peaked in the 20–30 year range, and declined significantly and markedly thereafter. Both men and women showed a significant negative correlation between left and right digit finger ratio and MRT scores, such that individuals with smaller digit ratios (relatively longer ring finger than index finger) performed better than individuals with larger digit ratios.

Keywords

Sex Spatial ability Height Age Education Sexual orientation Digit ratio Birth control pill 

References

  1. Austin, E. J., Manning, J. T., McInroy, K., & Mathews, E. (2002). A preliminary investigation of the associations between personality, cognitive ability and digit ratio. Personality and Individual Differences, 33, 1115–1124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, R. D., Foote, W. E., & Throckmorton, B. (2000). Human sexual behavior: A comparison of college and Internet surveys. In M. H. Birnbaum (Ed.), Psychological experiments on the internet (pp. 141–168). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blanchard, R., & Lippa, R. A. (2007). Birth order, sibling sex ratio, handedness, and sexual orientation of male and female participants in a BBC internet research project. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9159-7Google Scholar
  4. Brown, W. M., Finn, C. J., Cooke, B. M., & Breedlove, S. M. (2002). Differences in finger length ratios between self-identified “butch” and “femme” lesbians. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 117– 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, K. M. (2002). Relationships among childhood sex-atypical behavior, spatial ability, handedness, and sexual orientation in men. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 129–143.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Coolican, J., & Peters, M. (2003). Sexual dimorphism in the 2D/4D ratio and its relation to mental rotation performance. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 179–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fink, B., Neave, N., & Manning, J. T. (2003). Second to fourth digit ratio, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist-to-chest ratio: Their relationships in heterosexual men and women. Annals of Human Biology, 30, 728–738.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gladue, B. A., & Bailey, J. M. (1995). Spatial ability, handedness, and human sexual orientation. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 20, 487–497.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hall, L. S., & Love, C. T. (2003). Finger-length ratios in female monozygotic twins discordant for sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 31, 23–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Halari, R., Hines, M., Kumari, V., Mehrotra, R., Wheeler, M., Ng, V., et al. (2005). Sex differences and individual differences in cognitive performance and their relationship to endogenous gonadal hormones and gonadotropins. Behavioral Neuroscience, 1149, 104–117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hampson, E., & Moffat, S. D. (2004). The psychobiology of gender: Cognitive effects of reproductive hormones in the adult nervous system. In A. H. Eagly, A. E. Beall, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), The psychology of gender (2nd ed., pp. 38–64). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hausmann, M., Slabbekoorn, D., van Goozen, S. H., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., & Gunturkun, O. (2000). Sex hormones affect spatial abilities during the menstrual cycle. Behavioral Neuroscience, 114, 1245–1245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Jordan, K., Wüstenberg, T., Heinze, H-J., Peters, M., & Jäncke, L. (2002). Women and men exhibit different cortical activation patterns during mental rotation tasks. Neuropsychologia, 40, 2397–2408.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kimura, D. (2002). Sex hormones influence human cognitive pattern. Neuroendocrinology Letters, 23(Suppl. 4), 67–77.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Manning, J. T. (2002). Digit ratio: A pointer to fertility, behavior and health. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Manning, J. T., Churchill, A. J. G., & Peters, M. (2007). The effects of sex, ethnicity, and sexual orientation on self-measured digit ratio (2D:4D). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-007-9171-6 Google Scholar
  18. Manning, J. T., Scutt, D., Wilson, J., & Lewis-Jones, D. I. (1998). The ratio of 2nd to 4th digit length: A predictor of sperm numbers and levels of testosterone. Human Reproduction, 13, 3000–3004.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Manning, J. T., & Taylor, R. P. (2001). 2nd to 4th digit ratio and male ability in sport: Implications for sexual selection in humans. Evolution and Human Behavior, 22, 61–69.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maylor, E. A., Reimers, S., Choi, J., Collaer, M. L., Peters, M., & Silverman, I. (2007). Gender and sexual orientation differences in cognition across adulthood: Age is kinder to women than to men regardless of sexual orientation. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9155-y. Google Scholar
  21. McCormick, C. M., & Teillon, S. M. (2001). Menstrual cycle variation in spatial ability: Relation to salivary cortisol levels. Hormones and Behavior, 39, 29–38.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McCormick, C. M., & Witelson, S. F. (1991). A cognitive profile of homosexual men compared to heterosexual men and women. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 16, 459–473.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McFadden, D., Loehlin, J. C., Breedlove, S. M., Lippa, R. A., Manning, J. T., & Rahman, Q. (2005). A reanalysis of five studies on sexual orientation and the relative length of the 2nd and 4th fingers (the 2D:4D ratio). Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 341–356.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McFadden, D., & Shubel, E. (2003). The relationships between otoacoustic emissions and relative lengths of fingers and toes in humans. Hormones and Behavior, 43, 421–429.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Neave, N., Menaged, M., & Weightman, D. R. (1999). Sex differences in cognition: The role of testosterone and sexual orientation. Brain and Cognition, 41, 245–262.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Peters, M. (2005). Sex differences and the factor of time in solving Vandenberg & Kuse mental rotation problems. Brain and Cognition, 57, 176–184.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Peters, M., Laeng, B., Latham, K., Jackson, M., Zaiyouna, R., & Richardson, C. (1995). A redrawn Vandenberg & Kuse Mental Rotations Tests: Different versions and factors that affect performance. Brain and Cognition, 28, 39–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Peters, M., Lehmann, W., Takahira, S., Takeuchi, Y., & Jordan, K. (2006). Mental rotation test performance in four cross-cultural samples (n=3367): Overall sex differences and the role of academic program in performance. Cortex, 42, 1005–1014.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Rahman, Q., & Wilson, G. D. (2003). Large sexual-orientation-related differences in performance on mental rotation and judgment of line orientation tasks. Neuropsychology, 17, 25–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Reimers, S. (2007). The BBC internet study: General methodology. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9143-2. Google Scholar
  31. Sanders, G., Bereczkei, T., Csatho, A., & Manning, J. (2005). The ratio of the 2nd to 4th finger length predicts spatial ability in men but not women. Cortex, 41, 789–795.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Sanders, G., & Wright, M. (1997). Sexual orientation differences in cerebral asymmetry and in the performance of sexually dimorphic cognitive and motor tasks. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 26, 463–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Silverman, I., & Phillips, K. (1993). Effects of estrogen changes during the menstrual cycle on spatial performance. Ethology and Biology, 14, 257–270.Google Scholar
  34. Tuttle, G. E., & Pillard, R. C. (1991). Sexual orientation and cognitive abilities. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 20, 307–318.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. van Anders, S. M., & Hampson, E. (2005). Testing the prenatal androgen hypothesis: Measuring digit ratios, sexual orientation and spatial abilities in adults. Hormones and Behavior, 47, 92–98.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Vandenberg, S. G., & Kuse, A. R. (1978). Mental rotations, a group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47, 599–604.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Voracek, M., Manning, J. T., & Ponocny, I. (2005). Digit ratio (2D:4D) in homosexual and heterosexual men from Austria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 335–340.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. P. (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wegesin, D. J. (1998). A neuropsychologic profile of homosexual and heterosexual men and women. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 27, 91–108.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Witelson, S. F., Beresh, H., & Kigar, D. L. (2006). Intelligence and brain size in 100 postmortem brains: Sex, lateralization and age factors. Brain, 129, 386–398.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Woolley, C. S., Gould, E., Frankfurt, M., & McEwen, B. S. (1990). Naturally occurring fluctuation in dendritic spine density on adult hippocampal pyramidal neurons. Journal of Neuroscience, 10, 4035–4039.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Peters
    • 1
  • John T. Manning
    • 2
  • Stian Reimers
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonEngland
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonEngland

Personalised recommendations