Sex Roles

, Volume 53, Issue 5–6, pp 433–441 | Cite as

How Important Is the Digital Divide? The Relation of Computer and Videogame Usage to Gender Differences in Mental Rotation Ability

Article

Abstract

Researchers interested in the associations of gender with spatial experience and spatial ability have not yet focused on several activities that have become common in the modern digital age. In this study, using a new questionnaire called the Survey of Spatial Representation and Activities (SSRA), we examined spatial experiences with computers and videogames in a sample of nearly 1,300 undergraduate students. Large gender differences, which favored men, were found in computer experience. Although men and women also differed on SAT scores, gender differences in computer experience were still apparent with SAT factored out. Furthermore, men and women with high and low levels of computer experience, who were selected for more intensive study, were found to differ significantly on the Mental Rotations Test (MRT). Path analyses showed that computer experience substantially mediates the gender difference in spatial ability observed on the MRT. These results collectively suggest that the “Digital Divide” is an important phenomenon and that encouraging women and girls to gain spatial experiences, such as computer usage, might help to bridge the gap in spatial ability between the sexes.

Keywords

gender differences spatial ability mental rotation computer experience 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Akhter, S. (2003). Digital divide and purchase intention: Why demographic psychology matters. Journal of Economic Psychology, 24, 321–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alington, D., Russell, L., & Monaghan, J. (1992). Effects of stimulus color, pattern, and practice on sex differences in mental rotations task performance. Journal of Psychology, 126, 539–553.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Baenninger, M., & Newcombe, N. (1989). The role of experience in spatial test performance: A meta-analysis. Sex Roles, 20, 327–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baenninger, M., & Newcombe, N. (1995). Environmental input to the development of sex-related differences in spatial and mathematical ability. Learning and Individual Differences, 7, 363–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barron, B. (2004). Learning ecologies for the technological fluency: Gender and experience differences. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 31, 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Casey, M., Colon, D., & Goris, Y. (1992). Family handedness as a predictor of mental rotation ability among minority girls in a math-science training program. Brain and Cognition, 18, 88–96.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cooper, J. (2003). Gender and computers: Understanding the digital divide. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  8. De Lisi, R., & Cammarano, D. (1996). Computer experience and gender differences in undergraduate mental rotation performance. Computers in Human Behavior, 12, 351–361.Google Scholar
  9. De Lisi, R., & Wolford, J. (2002). Improving children's mental rotation accuracy with computer game playing. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 163, 272–283.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dominick, J. (1984). Videogames, television violence, and aggression in teenagers. Communication, 34, 136–147.Google Scholar
  11. Dorval, M., & Pepin, M. (1986). Effect of playing a video game on a measure of spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 62, 159–162.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Drori, G., & Jang, Y. (2003). The global digital divide: A sociological assessment of trends and causes. Social Science Computer Review, 21, 144–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duesbury, R., & O'Neil, H. (1996). Effect of type of practice in a compare-aided design environment in visualizing three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional orthographic projections. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81, 249–260.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Gagnon, D. (1985). Videogames and spatial skills: An exploratory study. Educational Communication and Technology, 33, 263–275.Google Scholar
  15. Global Internet Trends. (2001, First Quarter). 420 million people with internet access. Retrieved August, 2003, from http://www.matrade.gov.my/ecommerce/news-archive/stat-4htm.
  16. Goodman, L. (1960). On the exact variance of products. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 55, 708–713.Google Scholar
  17. Greenfield, P., Brannon, G., & Lohr, D. (1994). Two-dimensional representation of movement through three-dimensional space: The role of videogame expertise. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15, 87–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grimshaw, G., Sitarenios, G., & Finegan, J. (1995). Mental rotation at 7 years: Relations with prenatal testosterone levels and spatial play experiences. Brain and Cognition, 29, 85–100.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hess, R., & Niura, I. (1985). Gender differences in enrollment in computer camps and classes. Sex Roles, 13, 193–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. James, K., & Greenberg, J. (1997). Beliefs about self and about gender groups: Interactive effects on the spatial performance of women. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 19, 411–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Joseph, J., & Willingham, D. (2000). Effect of sex and joystick experience on pursuit tracking in adults. Journal of Motor Behavior, 32, 45–56.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Klatzky, R., Golledge, R., Loomis, J., Cicinelli, J., & Pellegrino, J. (1995). Performance of blind and sighted persons on spatial tasks. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 89, 70–82.Google Scholar
  23. Larson, P., Rizzo, A., Buckwalter, J., Van Rooyen, A., Kratz, K., Neumann, U., et al. (1999). Gender issues in the use of virtual environments. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 2, 113–123.Google Scholar
  24. Lawton, C. (1994). Gender differences in way-finding strategies: Relationship to spatial ability and spatial anxiety. Sex Roles, 30, 765–779.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lawton, C., & Morrin, K. (1999). Gender differences in pointing accuracy in computer-simulated 3D mazes. Sex Roles, 40, 73–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Linn, M., & Petersen, A. (1985). Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: A meta-analysis. Child Development, 56, 1479–1498.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Livingstone, S. (2003). Children's use of the internet: Reflections on the emerging research agenda. New Media and Society, 5, 147–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. MacKinnon, D., Warsi, G., & Dwyer, J. (1995). A simulation study of mediated effect measures. Multivariate Behavioral Research, 30, 41–62.Google Scholar
  29. Masters, M. (1998). The gender difference on the Mental Rotation Test is not due to performance factors. Memory and Cognition, 26, 444–448.Google Scholar
  30. McClurg, P., & Chaille, C. (1987). Computer games: Environments for developing spatial cognition? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 3, 95–111.Google Scholar
  31. Moody, M. (1997). Changes in scores on the Mental Rotation Test during the menstrual cycle. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 84, 955–961.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Morlock, L., & Yamanaka, E. (1985). Measuring women's attitudes, goals, and literacy toward computers and advanced technology. Educational Technology, 25, 12–14.Google Scholar
  33. Nordvik, H., & Amponsah, B. (1998). Gender differences in spatial abilities and spatial activity among university students in an egalitarian educational system. Sex Roles, 38, 1009–1023.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Okagaki, L., & Frensch, P. (1994). Effects of videogame playing on measures of spatial performance: Gender effects in late adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 15, 33–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. O'Laughlin, E., & Brubaker, B. (1998). Use of landmarks in cognitive mapping: Gender differences in self report versus performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 595–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Peters, M., Laeng, B., Latham, K., Jackson, M., Zaiyouna, R., & Richardson, C. (1995). A redrawn Vandenberg and Kuse Mental Rotation Test: Different versions and factors that affect performance. Brain and Cognition, 28, 39–58.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Pew Internet and American Life Project. (2001, February). The changing online population: It's more and more like the general population. Retrieved August, 2003, from http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/.
  38. Provenzo, E. (1991). Video kids: Making sense of Nintendo. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Rizzo, A., Buckwalter, J., Neumann, U., Chua, C., Van Rooyen, A., Larson, P., et al. (1999). Virtual environments for targeting cognitive processes: An overview of projects at the University of Southern California. Cyberpsychology and Behavior, 2, 89–100.Google Scholar
  40. Roberts, J., & Bell, M. (2000). Sex differences on a computerized mental rotation task disappear with computer familiarization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 91, 1027–1034.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Rushbrook, S. (1986). The “message” of video games: Social implications. Dissertation Abstracts International, 47(6-B), 534B.Google Scholar
  42. Saccuzzo, D., Craig, A., Johnson, N., & Larson, G. (1996). Gender differences in dynamic spatial abilities. Personality and Individual Differences, 21, 599–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shepard, R., & Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Science, 171, 701–703.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sims, V., & Mayer, E. (2002). Domain specificity of spatial expertise: The case of the video game players. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 16, 97–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stumpf, H., & Eliot, J. (1995). Gender-related differences in spatial ability and the k factor of general spatial ability in a population of academically talented students. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Subrahmanyam, K., & Greenfield, P. (1996). Effect of videogame practice on spatial skills in girls and boys. In P. Greenfield & R. Cocking (Eds.), Interacting with video (pp. 95–114). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.Google Scholar
  47. Talbot, K. F., & Haude, R. H. (1993) The relation between sign language skill and spatial visualization ability: Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 77, 1387–1391.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Tracy, D. (1990). Toy-playing behavior, sex-role orientation, spatial ability, and science achievement. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 27, 637–649.Google Scholar
  49. Vandenberg, S., & Kuse, A. (1978). Mental rotations: A group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47, 599–604.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Vandenberg, S., Kuse, A., & Vogler, G. (1985). Searching for correlates of spatial ability. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 60, 343–350.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Voyer, D., Nolan, C., & Voyer, S. (2000). The relation between experience and spatial performance in men and women. Sex Roles, 43, 891–915.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Voyer, D., Voyer, S., & Bryden, M. (1995). Magnitude of sex differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250–270.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphia

Personalised recommendations