Understanding Early Sex Differences in Mental Rotation Open Access

Udelson, Hallie Brooke (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/cj82k791d?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
Understanding Early Sex Differences in Mental Rotation
By Hallie Udelson

Studies have shown consistent sex differences in mental rotation ability, in which males have an advantage as early as infancy. Males and females also differ in their preferenes for certain objects. Research has attributed the sex differences in mental rotation and object preferences to biological features (e.g., testosterone) and environmental influences (e.g., socialization, parental reinforcement), and has even suggested a bidirectional influence. The current study used a novel mental rotation task and a preferential looking paradigm to explore individual differences in mental rotation and object preference in 6- to 14-month-old infants to investigate the relation between the two cognitive features early in life. Our results showed that males and females did not differ in their mental rotation performance. Across genders, infants visually preferred a doll (i.e., animate) to a truck (i.e., inanimate). The relation between mental rotation and preference for the truck varied by gender. Whereas visual preference for a truck was associated with mental rotation ability in boys (not accounted for by age), there was no such relation in girls. Possible explanations for this difference are discussed.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Object Preferences...5
Potential Biological Influences...7
Current Study...9
Method...12

Participants...12
Design...12
Stimuli...12
Apparatus and Procedure...13

Results...14
Discussion...17
References...23
Figures...26

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