Incidental learning : sex differences and effects of modality
Thirty two undergraduate psychology students (14 males and 18 females) took part in an incidental learning study to investigate differences in males and females in incidental learning. Differences in the recall of incidental cues as a function of modality, visual and auditory, were also analysed. Subjects were presented 24 common nouns (cues) either visually or auditorially and later asked to recall as many as possible. No correlation was found between either grade point average (itself correlated with IQ) or age and amount of recall. Females recalled significantly more items than males overall (p < .01). Auditorially presented cues were not significantly recalled more than those presented visually (12.61. mean number recalled visual and 12.86 mean number recalled auditory). Females recalled more incidental cues in both modalities; no interaction between modality and sex was obtained. It was concluded that females excel in incidental learning over males due to cognitive differences. In previous studies where no significant difference was found or reported, the lack of any differences was possibly due to ages of the subjects and/or to the nature of the recall item.