The Effects of Sex, Sexual Orientation, and Digit Ratio (2D:4D) on Mental Rotation Performance
- 3.4k Downloads
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.
KeywordsSex Spatial ability Height Age Education Sexual orientation Digit ratio Birth control pill
We are grateful to BBC TV Science for commissioning this research, and to the BBC Science and Nature website for programming and hosting the study. This work was supported by NSERCC Grant A 7054 to Michael Peters.
- 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
- 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
- Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- 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
- Manning, J. T. (2002). Digit ratio: A pointer to fertility, behavior and health. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- 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
- 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
- Reimers, S. (2007). The BBC internet study: General methodology. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 36, DOI: 10.1007/s10508-006-9143-2. Google Scholar
- Silverman, I., & Phillips, K. (1993). Effects of estrogen changes during the menstrual cycle on spatial performance. Ethology and Biology, 14, 257–270.Google Scholar