Gender Stereotypes And The Path Reversal Test Essay

Gender Stereotypes And The Path Reversal Test Essay

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There are many commonly known gender stereotypes; one of them is that men have better spatial abilities than women. The results of the experiment done by Liu, Levy, Barton, and Iaria (2011) showed this stereotype is not completely prejudicial because adult men outperformed adult women on several spatial tests, including cognitive map use, formation; and path reversal. The gender difference on the path reversal test is the highest among all tests (see appendix 1). Path reversal test evaluates how well do the participants recognize a reverse route back to the origin without the help of landmarks. In order to successfully complete this test, the participants need to be able to accurately estimate the distances between turns, how many turns are there and the angle of each turn. This test also requires the abilities to integrate optic flow and vestibular information with mental rotation and mental imagery.
One of the reasons men perform better at this could be due to that they are better at judging distances because they tend to favor allocentric strategy during navigation and determine their directions by referring to the absolute position between landmarks (Li, 2014). In comparison, women often use egocentric strategy and determine their direction by relating to local landmarks, so they perform better than men on tests that required them to recall landmarks or street names. The ability to perform mental rotation also distinct greatly between genders, with men perform much better than women, but this difference only appeared in adults. Vestibular information is a type of proprioceptive cue, which is also crucial in this test because this cue helps people to update knowledge about their orientations and positions during navigation (K...


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...rences of spatial ability exist, how to decrease it, are very important since spatial skills are very often related to other cognitive abilities and could lead to higher academic achievement (Weckbacher & Okamoto, 2012). Once we realized it is the environmental factors that contributed to the gender differences, we can try to fix it by changing the ways of how we treat girls and boys differently (Baenninger & Newcombe, 1995). To improve on spatial skills, female’s cognitive ability on other areas would be enhanced as well, that will ultimately decrease gender biases and promote gender equality. Further researches can be done on which activity benefit girls more on improving spatial ability, and we can adapt school curriculums, encourage girls to participate in those masculine or “boyish” activities, and have a future generation without the existence of gender bias.


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