Sex Roles

, Volume 59, Issue 3–4, pp 274–281 | Cite as

Where are the Gender Differences? Male Priming Boosts Spatial Skills in Women

  • Tuulia M. OrtnerEmail author
  • Monika Sieverding
Original Article


The effects of gender stereotype activation by priming on performance in a spatial task were investigated among a mixed adult sample (including students) of 161 men and women (mean age = 31.90) from Austria (Europe). They were assigned to one of four experimental groups according to gender and stereotype activation condition. After a male or female gender stereotype activating task, participants worked on a test assessing mental rotation (three-dimensional cube test, Gittler 1990). A significant main effect of priming on the performance in the mental rotation task emerged. Cohen’s d showed a pronounced gender difference emerging only in the female priming condition (d = .59), whereas it disappeared in the male priming condition (d = .01).


Gender priming Gender differences Spatial skills Mental rotation Test fairness 



We would like to thank Melanie Fiegl, Michaela Kacvincka, Sandra Peyerl, Nicole Pritz and Sandra Raffetseder for their help with the data collection and two anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Division for Psychological AssessmentHumboldt University BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Division for Differential and Gender PsychologyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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