Are men inherently better than women are at some skills, and vice versa? Though we tend to think otherwise -- and there are always notable exceptions -- scientific research frequently concludes that men and women excel in different areas. So what about nature versus nurture?
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The results show that women performed just as well as their male peers when the spatial tests included human-like figures. Previous work on spatial thinking has provided some evidence that men are, on average, better than women at certain spatial tasks, such as imagining what an object would look like if it were rotated a specific way. But Tarampi and colleagues Nahal Heydari, a former UCSB undergraduate student, and Mary Hegarty, professor of psychological and brain sciences at UCSB, noticed that little research had investigated whether gender differences exist when it comes to spatial perspective-taking.
It's probably fair to say that we don't spend much time thinking about the way we view the world around us. But some scientists conduct detailed studies of how accurately we judge space — our spatial abilities — with paper and pencil tests. The Sex ID test included similar tests — the angles, 3D shapes and spot the difference tasks. Studies show that, on average, men are better than women at mentally rotating pictures of three dimensional objects the 3D shapes task or judging the slope of a line the angles task.
Research stretching back decades supports this view. But there remain many holes in this popular narrative. Are women born different or brought up differently?
Do men and women differ in their cognitive capacities? This averages out so the mean is the same. Again, this averages out overall.
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Spatial visualization ability or visual-spatial ability is the ability to mentally manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures. It is typically measured with simple cognitive tests and is predictive of user performance with some kinds of user interfaces. Though the descriptions of spatial visualization and mental rotation sound similar, mental rotation is a particular task that can be accomplished using spatial visualization.
It is well-established that, on average, men outperform women on a spatial reasoning task known as mental rotation—imagining multi-dimensional objects from different points of view. The new research, however, indicates that males gain a slight advantage in mental-rotation performance during the first years of formal schooling, and this advantage slowly grows with age, tripling in size by the end of adolescence. It takes most of childhood and adolescence for the gender gap in spatial skills to reach the size of the difference seen in adulthood.
Men consistently outperform women on spatial tasks, including mental rotation, which is the ability to identify how a 3-D object would appear if rotated in space. Now, a University of Iowa study shows a connection between this sex-linked ability and the structure of the parietal lobe, the brain region that controls this type of skill. The parietal lobe was already known to differ between men and women, with women's parietal lobes having proportionally thicker cortexes or "grey matter.