Abstract: The largest consistent sex difference in human cognition is found on mental rotation tests, which require participants to compare pictures of three-dimensional objects and decide whether they depict the same object or different objects. Across cultures, males score up to one standard deviation higher than females. We administered two standard rotation tests to 123 participants and found that these higher scores likely do not reflect superiority in the process of mental rotation per se, but rather in other aspects of task performance. Our results show that males decide more accurately when two objects are different, a situation in which women are more likely to claim incorrectly that they are the same, and that individual differences in confidence are responsible for part of the male advantage found on this test, whereas differences in spatial encoding ability are not. These results have implications for evolutionary theories of sex differences in spatial cognition.Years ago, I read an article that said Mozart had written 72 drafts of one composition.*
Christopher F. Chabris: Selected Publications
Hooven, C.K., Chabris, C.F., Ellison, P.T., Kievit, R.A., & Kosslyn, S.M. (2008). The sex difference on mental rotation tests is not necessarily a difference in mental rotation ability. Submitted for publication. PDF file of manuscript
That struck me as the difference between a genius and a near-genius: the genius can still hear the wrong note after 71 drafts.
I don't understand the difference between spatial encoding ability and deciding that two objects are different. I assume the article will clear that up.
* 72 or thereabouts