Tested competing hypotheses, derived from Bem's gender schema theory and Spence's gender identity theory. Two samples of college students were given a spatial task (either Piaget's water-level task or the Card Rotations Test) and self-report measures of participation in gender-stereotyped, space-related activities and of stereotypical masculine and feminine personality traits. Used causal modeling techniques to test the adequacy of the path models associated with the predictions from Bem's and Spence's theories. In both samples, sex, self-concept, and spatial activities made significant direct contributions to the prediction of spatial performance, supporting Spence's theory. The tendency of those with higher masculine trait scores to perform better on the spatial tasks was sometimes moderated by sex and feminine trait score. Implications of the results for the question of the origin of sex differences in spatial performance are discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies