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Acta Psychol (Amst). 1998 Jun;99(1):1-16.

Gender differences in visuo-spatial processing: the importance of distinguishing between passive storage and active manipulation.

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Institute of Psychology, School of Medicine, University of Milan, Italy.


The study here reported investigates the hypothesis that gender differences in visuo-spatial abilities are mainly confined to active processing tasks. Male and female participants were required to perform passive tasks involving the recall of previously memorized positions within matrices of different sizes, as well as active tasks in which they had to mentally follow a pathway in the same matrices. The results confirmed that male superiority became evident as the active processing requirements increased while only marginal gender difference was reported in passive tasks. To strengthen the specific role of the active-passive distinction in identifying gender differences, confounding factors such as type of material and use of verbal strategies were ruled out. These findings, in line with a number of studies on individual differences, high-light the importance of addressing visuo-spatial ability as a multicomponential cognitive function which entails different type of visuo-spatial processing or mechanisms (i.e., active processing and passive storage of information) rather than as a unitary concept.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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