Are Differences Between Men and Women in Rotated Pattern Recognition Due to the Use of Different Cognitive Strategies?


  • Catherine Brandner
  • Cédric Devaud


A recursive hypothesis suggests that gender differences in spatial abilities, including mental rotation tasks, are the result of differences in the strategies that men and women use to process information. To address this issue, we systematically explored men and women’s performance for rotated patterns by assessing recognition, confidence rating and response time, thought to be fundamental to spatial processing, with classical methods, and with signal detection theory (SDT) parameters (d-prime and c-bias). Among our findings, we highlight d-prime as the most robust parameter to assess gender differences and predict group membership. Furthermore, we conclude that better performance by men is due to their strategy of transforming a mental rotation task into a simpler task comparing the alignment of test stimuli to the surrounding experimental environment.