Stereotype lift and sex differences in mental rotation

No Thumbnail Available
Dittmer, Allison R.
Nardi, Daniele
Issue Date
Thesis (B.?)
Honors College
Other Identifiers
CardCat URL

Mental rotation has shown one of the most prominent sex differences of all spatial and cognitive reasoning skills. A male advantage in mental rotation ability has been documented repeatedly in previous studies (Parsons, 2004). Female underrepresentation in STEM may be a result of this disparity in mental rotation ability given that the ability to mentally rotate objects is an essential skill in math, physics, engineering, and chemistry classes as well as several other classes within the STEM discipline. However, it is unclear how much of this sex difference is a result of stereotype threat (the risk of confirming negative stereotypes about an individual’s identity groups). The present study looked to examine whether this sex difference could be eliminated by stereotype lift. Participants took a Qualtrics survey that prompted them to take a mental rotation test and report their demographic information. Half of participants were assigned to an experimental condition using stereotype lift while the other half were assigned to a control group. Data was analyzed using a 2x2 between subjects ANOVA. Participants were recruited through social media and QR codes left in common spaces on Ball State University’s campus. I hypothesized that in the condition using stereotype lift, females would perform better than males on the mental rotation test. My hypothesis was not supported, and males outperformed females on the mental rotation test in both the experimental and control conditions.