Advertisement

Memory & Cognition

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 72–82 | Cite as

Timing conditions and the magnitude of gender differences on the Mental Rotations Test

  • Daniel VoyerEmail author
  • Marguerite A. Rodgers
  • Peter A. McCormick
Article

Abstract

In two experiments, we examined the effect of timing conditions on the magnitude of gender differences in performance on the Mental Rotations Test (MRT). In Experiment 1, each of 196 females and 119 males was administered the MRT via a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation in one of five timing conditions (15, 20, 25, 30, and 40 sec). The participants were exposed to each MRT item for the period specified in the assigned timing condition. Experiment 2 was conducted to address flaws found in Experiment 1. Accordingly, each of 105 females and 105 males was individually administered the task in one of three timing conditions (15 sec, 25 sec, or unlimited duration). The results of both experiments showed that the magnitude of gender differences was similar across timing conditions when a conventional scoring method was used. An analysis of guessing behavior generally indicated that men tend to show little effect of timing conditions, whereas women’s propensity to guess increases when they are given more time to respond. In general, the results supported an interpretation of gender differences on the MRT that relies on the joint operation of performance factors and level of spatial ability.

Keywords

Gender Difference Mental Rotation Performance Factor Correct Choice Spatial Ability 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Allen, M. J., &Hogeland, R. (1978). Spatial problem-solving strategies as functions of sex.Perceptual & Motor Skills,47, 348–350.Google Scholar
  2. American Psychological Association (1992). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.American Psychologist,47, 1597–1611.CrossRefGoogle 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. Caplan, P. J., MacPherson, G.M., &Tobin, P. (1985). Do sex-related differences in spatial abilities exist? A multilevel critique with new data.American Psychologist,40, 786–799.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Gallagher, S. A. (1989). Predictors of SAT mathematics scores of gifted male and gifted female adolescents.Psychology of Women Quarterly,13, 191–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gallagher, S. A., &Johnson, E. S. (1992). The effect of time limits on performance of mental rotations by gifted adolescents.Gifted Child Quarterly,36, 19–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Goldstein, D., Haldane, D., &Mitchell, C. (1990). Sex differences in visual-spatial ability: The role of performance factors.Memory & Cognition,18, 546–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Johnson, E., &Meade, A. (1987). Developmental patterns of spatial ability: An early sex difference.Child Development,58, 725–740.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Levy, J. (1971). Lateral specialization of the human brain: Behavioral manifestations and possible evolutionary basis. In J. A. Kiger, Jr. (Ed.),The biology of behavior (pp. 159–180). Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Linn, M. C., &Petersen, A. C. (1985). Emergence and characterization of sex differences in spatial ability: A meta-analysis.Child Development,56, 1479–1498.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Lohman, D. F. (1986). The effect of speed-accuracy tradeoff on sex differences in mental rotation.Perception & Psychophysics,39, 427–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Masters, M. S. (1998). The gender difference on the Mental Rotations Test is not due to performance factors.Memory & Cognition,26, 444–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. McGee, M. G. (1979). Human spatial abilities: Psychometric studies and environmental, genetic, hormonal, and neurological influences.Psychological Bulletin,86, 889–911.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Peters, M., Laeng, B., Latham, K., Johnson, M., Zaiyouna, R., &Richardson, C. (1995). A redrawn Vandenberg and Kuse Mental Rotations Test: Different versions and factors that affect performance.Brain & Cognition,28, 39–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Resnick, S. M. (1993). Sex differences in mental rotations: An effect of time limits?Brain & Cognition,21, 71–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Sanders, B., &Soares, M. P. (1986). Sexual maturation and spatial ability in college students.Developmental Psychology,22, 199–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shepard, R. N., &Metzler, J. (1971). Mental rotation of three-dimensional objects.Science,171, 701–703.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Signorella, M. L., &Jamison, W. (1986). Masculinity, femininity, androgyny, and cognitive performance: A meta-analysis.Psychological Bulletin,100, 207–228.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Stumpf, H. (1998). Gender-related differences in academically talented students’ scores and use of time on tests of spatial ability.Gifted Child Quarterly,42, 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Tabachnick, B. G., &Fidell, L. S. (1996).Using multivariate statistics (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  21. Vandenberg, S. G. (1985).Answer Key for Mental Rotations Test. Boulder: Author.Google Scholar
  22. Vandenberg, S. G., &Kuse, A. R. (1978). Mental Rotation, a group test of three-dimensional spatial visualization.Perceptual & Motor Skills,47, 599–604.Google Scholar
  23. Voyer, D. (1997). Scoring procedure, performance factors, and magnitude of sex differences in spatial performance.American Journal of Psychology,110, 259–276.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Voyer, D., Voyer, S., &Bryden, M. P. (1995). Magnitude of gender differences in spatial abilities: A meta-analysis and consideration of critical variables.Psychological Bulletin,117, 250–271.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Waber, D. P. (1976). Sex differences in cognition: A function of maturation rate?Science,192, 572–574.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Voyer
    • 3
    Email author
  • Marguerite A. Rodgers
    • 1
  • Peter A. McCormick
    • 2
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.St. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of New BrunswickFrederictonCanada

Personalised recommendations