Thursday, 4 August 2016

Sex differences in spatial cognition: advancing the conversation

an article by Susan C. Levine, Alana Foley, Stella Lourenco, Stacy Ehrlich and Kristin Ratliff (University of Chicago, USA) published in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science Volume 7 Issue 2 (March/April 2016)


The existence of a sex difference in spatial thinking, notably on tasks involving mental rotation, has been a topic of considerable research and debate.

We review this literature, with a particular focus on the development of this sex difference, and consider four key questions:
  1. When does the sex difference emerge developmentally and does the magnitude of this difference change across development?
  2. What are the biological and environmental factors that contribute to sex differences in spatial skill and how might they interact?
  3. How malleable are spatial skills, and is the sex difference reduced as a result of training? and
  4. Does ‘spatializing’ the curriculum raise the level of spatial thinking in all students and hold promise for increasing and diversifying the STEM pipeline? 
Throughout the review, we consider promising avenues for future research.

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