Masculinity, Femininity, Androgyny, and Cognitive Performance. A Meta-Analysis

Margaret L. Signorella, Wesley Jamison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Nash has argued that individuals will perform better on cognitive tasks when their self-concepts match the gender stereotyping of the tasks. To evaluate this hypothesis, we reviewed studies on the relation between gender self-concept and performance on spatial, mathematical, and verbal tasks. Meta-analytic techniques were used to estimate the average effect sizes and to determine the significance of the combined probabilities. The influence of subjects' sex and age, date of study, type of spatial task, and type of self-concept measure on these associations was also examined. In general, the results from spatial and mathematical tasks, which are usually stereotyped as masculine, supported Nash's hypothesis. Higher masculine and lower feminine self-concept scores were associated with better performance. These relations were observed more consistently for female than for male subjects. Most notably, there was some evidence of better spatial and mathematical performance among adolescent boys who described themselves as feminine. Nash's hypothesis was not supported for verbal tasks. Finally, there was no evidence that androgyny, defined either as high masculine and high feminine scores or as a balance between masculine and feminine scores, is associated with better cognitive performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-228
Number of pages22
JournalPsychological Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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