Real Three-Dimensional Objects: Effects on Mental Rotation

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The current experiment investigated real three-dimensional (3D) objects with regard to performance on a mental rotation task and whether the appearance of sex differences may be mediated by experiences with spatially related activities. 40 men and 40 women were presented with alternating timed trials consisting of real-3D objects or two-dimensional illustrations of 3D objects. Sex differences in spatially related activities did not significantly influence the finding that men outperformed women on mental rotation of either stimulus type. However, on measures related to spatial activities, self-reported proficiency using maps correlated positively with performance only on trials with illustrations whereas self-reported proficiency using GPS correlated negatively with performance regardless of stimulus dimensionality. Findings may be interpreted as suggesting that rotating real-3D objects utilizes distinct but overlapping spatial skills compared to rotating two-dimensional representations of 3D objects, and real-3D objects can enhance mental rotation performance.


This article was originally published in Perceptual and Motor Skills. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Perceptual and Motor Skills


© Perceptual and Motor Skills 2011