Stereotype susceptibility narrows the gender gap in imagined self-rotation performance
Three studies examined the impact of stereotype messages on men’s and women’s performance of a mental rotation task involving imagined self-rotations. Experiment 1 established baseline differences between men and women; women made 12% more errors than did men. Experiment 2 found that exposure to a positive stereotype message enhanced women’s performance in comparison with that of another group of women who received neutral information. In Experiment 3, men who were exposed to the same stereotype message emphasizing a female advantage made more errors than did male controls, and the magnitude of error was similar to that for women from Experiment 1. The results suggest that the gender gap in mental rotation performance is partially caused by experiential factors, particularly those induced by sociocultural stereotypes.
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