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

  • Michael PetersEmail author
  • John T. Manning
  • Stian Reimers
Original Paper


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.


Sex 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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Peters
    • 1
    Email author
  • 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

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