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Weighing the Evidence: Spatial Reasoning

A brief summary of a prominent gender controversy concerning the spatial reasoning abilities of men and women.

R Vimawala

on 6 December 2012

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Transcript of Weighing the Evidence: Spatial Reasoning

Weighing the Evidence:
Spatial Reasoning Focusing Question Essentialist The Two "Camps" Brain Structure So, what exactly is spatial reasoning? For my purpose of gender analysis, I will use the definition given by Fennema (1977). She states that spatial reasoning is "visual imagery of objects, movement or change in the objects themselves or change in their properties."
Do men have better spatial reasoning abilities than women, and if so why? By: Rheanna Vimawala Essentialist Constructionist Brain Structure Hormones (e.g. Androgen Levels) Upbringing and Experience Culture A study suggests that the thicker cortex in the parietal lobe of a woman's brain compared to a man's is related to woman's poorer mental rotation abilities. Hormones Study 1: Boys who have a severe deficiency of male hormones in the years of puberty grow up to have less ability in spatial reasoning than others who had normal hormone levels, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Study 2: Spatial ability of the patients correlated positively with their testicular volume, suggesting that androgens exert a permanent organizing influence on the male brain that is not seen in women at all. Social Constructionist Upbringing/Experience Study 1: University of Toronto researchers have discovered that differences between men and women on some tasks that require spatial skills are largely eliminated after both groups play a video game for only a few hours. This research was published in the October 2007 issue of Psychological Science. Culture Study 1: Subjects solved a four-piece jigsaw puzzle. The time that it took to complete the puzzle acted as our measure of spatial ability.
Female villagers took longer to solve the puzzle in the patrilineal society but no longer in the matrilineal society.

Thanks for Listening! So, what do I think? Although the constructionist side has many interesting studies, I am more geared towards believing in the essentialist camp. Although, the social factors can have an impact spatial abilities and decrease the gap between men and women, I think it all stems from biological factors. So, now what do YOU think? What do you think it is? While women tend to be stronger verbally than men, studies mainly show that men have an advantage in the ability to imagine complex objects visually and to mentally rotate them. Works Cited http://aer.sagepub.com/content/14/1/51.short









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