ChnStd  Vol.3 No.2 , May 2014
Mental Rotation Test Performance of Chinese Male and Female University Students
Abstract: The Mental Rotation Test (MRT) of spatial abilities has consistently produced large gender differences favoring males. Recent social changes in gender attitudes and gender roles have not diminished such differences. Of special interest is the finding that the MRT involves a spatial ability positively correlated with higher-level math ability; individuals who do well on the MRT also tend to score high on standardized test of mathematics. In our previous studies using a GRE Math Subject Practice Test, we had found a lack of gender differences in math for Chinese college students. At the same time, we found an over-representation of males among physics and computer sciences majors in Chinese colleges. These findings lead to an obvious question regarding gender differences in spatial ability, especially the MRT among Chinese students. The present study was conducted to obtain MRT data from the same population of Chinese college students used in our earlier math studies. We found male Chinese students scored significantly higher than their female counterparts on the MRT.
Cite this paper: Tsui, M., Venator, E., & Xu Xiaoying (2014) Mental Rotation Test Performance of Chinese Male and Female University Students. Chinese Studies, 3, 41-46. doi: 10.4236/chnstd.2014.32007.

[1]   Benbow, C. P. (1988). Sex Differences in Mathematical Reasoning Ability in Intellectually Talented Preadolescents: Their Nature, Effects, and Possible Causes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11, 169-232.

[2]   Casey, M. B., Nuttall, R., Pezaris, E., & Benbow, C. P. (1995). The Influence of Spatial Ability on Gender Differences in Mathematics College Entrance Test Scores across Diverse Samples. Developmental Psychology, 31, 697-705.

[3]   Feingold, A. (1988). Cognitive Gender Differences Are Disappearing. American Psychologist, 43, 95-103.

[4]   Gallagher, A. (1992). Sex Differences in Problem-Solving Strategies Used by High-Scoring Examinees on the SAT-M. The College Board Report No. 92-2, The College Board.

[5]   Gallagher, A., Levin, J., & Cahalan, C. (2002). Cognitive Patterns of Gender Differences on Mathematics Admissions Tests. GRE Board Professional Report No. 96-17, Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.

[6]   Geary, D. (1999). Sex Differences in Mathematical Abilities: Commentary on the Math-Fact Retrieval Hypothesis. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 24, 267-274.

[7]   Geary, D., & DeSoto, M. C. (2001). Sex Differences in Spatial Abilities among Adults from the United States and China: Implications for Evolutionary Theory. Evolution and Cognition, 7, 172-177.

[8]   Goldstein, D., Haldane, D., & Mitchell, C. (1990). Sex Differences in Visual-Spatial Ability: The Role of Performance Factors. Memory and Cognition, 18, 546-550.

[9]   Halpern, D. F. (2004). A Cognitive-Process Taxonomy for Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13, 135-139.

[10]   Leduc, S. (2005). Cracking the GRE Math Subject Test. The Princeton Review, New York: Random House.

[11]   Linn, M., & Petersen, A. (1985). Emergence and Characterization of Sex Differences in Spatial Ability: A Meta-Analysis. Child Development, 56, 1479-1498.

[12]   Lippa, R. A., Collaer, M. L., & Peters, M. (2010). Sex Differences in Mental Rotation and Line Angle Judgment Are Positively Associated with Gender Equality and Economic Development across 53 Nations. Archaeology of Sex Behavior, 39, 990-997.

[13]   Masters, M. (1998). The Gender Difference on the Mental Rotations Test Is Not Due to Performance Factors. Memory & Cognition, 26, 444-448.

[14]   Masters, M., & Sanders, B. (1993). Is the Gender Difference in Mental Rotation Disappearing? Behavior Genetics, 23, 337- 341.

[15]   Peters, M. (2005). Sex Differences and the Factor of Time in Solving Vandenberg and Kuse Mental Rotation Problem. Brain and Cognition, 57, 176-184.

[16]   Peters, M., Lehmann, W., Takahira, S., Takeuchi, Y., & Jordan, K. (2006). Mental Rotation Test Performance in Four Cross- Cultural Samples (N=3367): Overall Sex Differences and the Role of Academic Program in Performance. Cortex, 42, 1005-1014.

[17]   Peters, M., Laeng, B., Latham, K., Jackson, M., Zaiyouna, R., & Richardson, C. (1995). A Redrawn Vandenberg and Kuse Mental Rotations Test: Different Versions and Factors That Affect Performance. Brian and Cognition, 28, 39-58.

[18]   Rosenthal, R., & Rubin, D. (1982). Further Meta-Analytic Procedures for Assessing Cognitive Gender Differences. Journal of Educational Psychology, 74, 708-712.

[19]   Stumpf, H. (1993). Performance Factors and Gender-Related Differences in Spatial Ability: Another Assessment. Memory & Cognition, 21, 828-836.

[20]   Stumpf, H., & Klieme, E. (1989). Sex-Related Differences in Spatial Ability: More Evidence for Convergence. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 69, 915-921.

[21]   Tsui, M. (2007). Gender Differences in Mathematics and Sciences Achievement in China and the United States. Gender Issues, 21, 1-11.

[22]   Tsui, M., & Venator, E. (2008) Stereotype Threat and the Academic Performance of Chinese Students (in Chinese). Society: Chinese Journal of Sociology (in Chinese), 28,191-202.

[23]   Vandenberg, S., & Kuse, A. (1978). Mental Rotation, a Group Test of Three-Dimensional Spatial Visualization. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47, 599-604.

[24]   Voyer, D., Yoyer, S., & Bryden, M. P. (1995). Magnitude of Sex Differences in Spatial Abilities: A Meta-Analysis and Consideration of Critical Variables. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 250-270.