attributed by sex hormones cause gender differences in spatial and mental
rotation tasks (Hampson & Moffat, 2004). Peters et al (2007) aimed to find relationships
between mental rotation task (MRT) performance and a set of variables.
Predictions were that men
with different sexual orientation would differ in spatial ability (Rahman and
Wilson, 2003) and that the male pattern of index finger to ring finger ratio
(lower ratio) would gain higher MRT scores than those with the female pattern (higher
ratio) (Manning, 2002). Work inspecting women’s estrogen fluctuations in the
hippocampus is support for believing hormone levels relate to spatial ability
(Woolley, Gould, Frankfurt, & McEwen, 1990).
134,317 men and 120,783
women from 7 ethnic groups took part. These included Asian, British Black,
Black other, Chinese, Mid-eastern, Mixed and White. The MRT gave a score on
their ability to rotate an object in their head. Finger lengths were measured
following instructions from Manning et al. (1998).
Results showed that men performed
better than women on the MRT, following through all ethnic groups. Significant
correlations were found between height (cm) and MR scores, and between
educational level and body height.
I conducted a study testing for
correlations between Digit ratio, A-level scores and MR ability. This was to test the validity and reliability of previous
research such as Beaton et al (2012) who considered handedness and sex
hormones, and work from Bull et al (2010) with prenatal androgens. I aimed to understand
how a-level scores, gender and digit ratio may affect cognitive abilities. Controversial
associations found from research prior to this meant that more work is
necessary to understand how cognitive ability differs with individuals.
My null hypothesis was that MR
ability has no significant relationship with male biological characteristics or
a-level scores. My alternative hypothesis was that MR ability has a significant relationship with
male biological characteristics: digit ratio and a-level scores. A-level
scores were used because Peters (2007) found associations between education and
26 students, 13 male and 13 female, aged between 18-20 were
part of my opportunistic sample as I asked people who were available to me at
Materials included a ruler to measure participants finger
lengths’, a computer for the MRT, and a calculator for digit ratio’s. Further
to this, SPSS was used to perform data entry and analysis and to create tables
This quasi experiment used correlational analysis to
investigate relationships involving 4 variables; i) a level achievement, ii) MR
ability, iii) finger digit ratio and iv) gender.
The MRT had 20 trials, yielding a score at the end. I
measured fingers by the instructions: “Hold the hand in front of you. Look at where the ring ?nger joins the
palm of the hand. Put the 0 of the ruler exactly on the middle of this bottom crease.
Make sure the ruler runs straight up the middle of the ?nger. Measure to the
tip of the ?nger in millimetres.”. Digit ratio worked out via
After this, participants signed consent forms, asked their
age and what grades they achieved in their A-level exams. Scores accumulated
through: A*=10, A=8, B=6, C=4. Lastly,
they were debriefed by revealing the aims and basic background to the study.
The data collected was statistically insignificant. Figure 4
shows the correlational statistical significance using spearman’s Rho. Figure 1
is a correlation between finger digit ratio (cm) and A-level score. The
correlation coefficient here is .024. Then 0.623 for the 2-tailed hypothesis. Figure
2 is a correlation of data between A-level scores and MRT score (%), The
correlation coefficient here is -.113. Then 0.907 for the 2-tailed hypothesis. Figure
3 shows the correlation between MR scores and finger digit ratio. The
correlation coefficient is -.101. Then 0.581 for the 2-tailed hypothesis.
This shows that results found from the 26 individuals were
substantially insignificant, with no real relationships being shown between the
variables, as the p-value must be less
Figure 3: Scattergraph showing correlation between
mental rotation score and finger digit ratio
My hypothesis was ‘mental rotation ability has a significant
relationship with male biological characteristics: digit ratio and a-level
scores.’. I accepted the
null hypothesis and rejected the alternate as I found no significant
Limitations included; i) Too small
sample size. It seems a large sample is required to reveal a significant effect
(Peters et al 2007). For further research, a larger and more diversified sample
would be necessary. ii) Biased sample. It was an unfair group of participants
all studying at University. This would have hindered our ability to generalise results
beyond them. iii) A-level scores may not have been the best way to measure
educational ability. Visual-spatial ability has been identified as a
significant predictor of one’s mathematics ability (e.g. Holmes and Adams,
2006). Performance on the Corsi task was positively correlated with scores on
WPPSI calculations. However, this would have been difficult to administer and
mark. Thus, for time and cost efficiency, A-level grades were suitable. iv)
When measuring participants fingers’, I didn’t double check measurements. This
could be problematic as errors would have determined distorted digit ratio’s.
Beaton et al (2012) found significant
results for a phonological memory task. They didn’t find support for believing
that digit ratio influences MR performance. This conflicts with Peters (2007)
who reported a relationship with males. However, they’d agree that 2D:4D ratio
relates to personality and other cognitive functions. Bull’s work (2010) examined the impact of prenatal T
exposure (indexed by 2D:4D) on visual-spatial and numerical skills. They agreed
that sex differences occur later in development, with male superiority mostly
evident after puberty resultant of sex steroids (Collaer, Reimers, and Manning,
2007). However, they used corsi blocks. These don’t involve dynamic rotation
but requires them to sustain visual representations of paths and recall the
Overall, my findings don’t strengthen
or weaken previous research. The insignificance of the results mean that replications
should be taken out to investigate these variables on a detailed scale which
may provide better insight into understanding differences in MR ability.
A. A., Magowan, S. V., & Rudling, N. G. (2012). Does handedness or digit
ratio (2D:4D) predict lateralised cognitive ability? Personality and Individual Differences, 52(5), 627-631.
R., Davidson, W. A., & Nordmann, E. (2010). Prenatal testosterone,
visual-spatial memory, and numerical skills in young children. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(3), 246-250
M., Manning, J. T., & Reimers, S. (2007). The Effects of Sex, Sexual
Orientation, and Digit Ratio (2D:4D) on Mental Rotation Performance. Archives
of Sexual Behavior, 36(2), 251-260