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Gender differences when attending a mirror tracing task

Gender differences when attending a mirror tracing task

The purpose of this study was to test the hypotheses of speed and accuracy when practicing Mirror Tracing between men and women as well as the difference between genders with skill transferring when completing this task. The sample consisted of 243, 170 females and 73 males online and on campus university students who participated in the Mirror Tracing task for one week. Results indicated that as predicted, men were more accurate and faster than women when attending to the Mirror Tracing task. They also scored higher on skill transferring than women. It was concluded that men score higher on spatial tasks than women do, however the differences in spatial skills between men and women can be credited to learning.

Each hemisphere of the brain specialise in different tasks, the left hemisphere is mostly responsible for linguistic functions while the right hemisphere is mainly responsible for complex visuo spatial analysis (O’Boyle, Hoff & Gill, 1995). The Mirror Tracing task has been studied for many years and is considered to be a study of trial and error (Ketterlinus, Sep31, Vol. 2 Issue 3, p200). Mirror Tracing has been used to study the differences between men and women, however as indicated by), the difference in spatial ability with genders can be attributed to learning (Halpern, 2000 & Kimura, 1999).

On average, females perform not as well as males in spatial abilities Spence et al. (2009), mirror tracing has become a very important and popular study to use when determining differences in abilities. Each spatial task focuses on different aspects of it, some focus on problem solving skills where others focus on mental orientation Spence et al. (2009). Mirror Tracing focuses on repetitive motions as participants are required to draw the same shape or shapes over a period of time by only looking in the mirror at it.

Mirror Tracing has its limitations as it focus is mainly on a limited amount of shapes which with time and practice either gender can perform well. However it does measure the speed and accuracy of how the each gender (O’Boyle, Hoff & Gill, 1995). Past studies, such as O’ Boyle, Hoff & Gill (1995), have come to a conclusion that males have excelled in spatial tasks more than females and determined that males are able to attend to this task with more accuracy than females.

In this study the aim is to determine whether speed and accuracy differs between genders and to measure the differences in skill transferability of participants of different genders. It was predicted that males will be faster and more accurate when practising mirror tracing compared to females. It was also hypothesised that males will have a higher score with regards to skill transferability in terms of speed compared to females.

Method

Participants

The sample consisted of 243, 170 females and 73 males online and on campus University students. The mean ages was 21.85 (SD = 5.8). All participants participated in the Mirror Tracing task for one week.

Materials

Mirror tracing skills & transferability of this skill in males and females was determined using a Mirror Tracing exercise. Each participant was provided with instructions on how to complete the Mirror Tracing exercise and experimental material with star and face shapes in it. Each participant had to use a mirror, pen or pencil, cardboard or similar to block the view and a clock or stopwatch. Finally each participant was also provided a summary of results sheet to note down their individual results. To accurately score and record the results, participants had to count how many times they touched the line and count that as one error, each time they went over the line was counted as two errors and any breaks in the line were counted as one error.

Procedure

Before filling out the summary of results sheet, all participants were informed of the following: the purpose of the study, nature of the study, anonymity and provided with information of how to do the Mirror Tracing task. Participants completed the task either online or on a paper copy and returned it to the tutor. The experimental material used was star and face shapes to measure speed, accuracy and skill transferability between men and women. Each participant had to trace one star and one face with each hand on day 1. For the next five days each participant had to trace four star using each hand and on day 7 trace a final face and star with each hand. To complete this task, the participants had to place the sheet with the shape on it on a table with a mirror in front of it still being able to see their hand in it. They then had to hold the cardboard above the shape, check and record the time and start tracing it. This had to be done with both hands. The participants had to record the time it took them to complete the activity on the Summary of Results sheet and return it to the tutor once completed.

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Results

There was very little mean difference in the mirror tracing exercise for day 2 – day 6 between men and women in regards to speed and errors, however the results indicate that men tend to be quicker and more accurate than women in this spatial task. The results indicate that as predicted, men were slightly quicker and accurate than women when attempting the mirror tracing exercise as indicated in Table 1 and 2 below. Initially on day 2, women were quicker at the exercise than men and for both participants, the speed did increased and errors decreased as the days went on, however the results for males are somewhat higher than females. The Standard Deviation for both is also very similar as indicated in Table 1 and 2 below.

Table 1

Means and Standard Deviation of the Mirror Tracing Task Day 2 – Day 6 for speed between men and women

Report

Gender

practice2_time

practice3_time

practice4_time

practice5_time

F

Mean

112.8293

100.7399

91.6370

84.5834

N

167

167

167

167

Std. Deviation

75.29216

64.04660

58.79142

49.88509

M

Mean

130.1631

107.9093

100.1247

86.8376

N

72

71

72

71

Std. Deviation

82.41461

76.36392

82.37136

54.71729

Total

Mean

118.0512

102.8787

94.1940

85.2558

N

239

238

239

238

Std. Deviation

77.74119

67.86959

66.70926

51.26775

Notes: F = Females; M = Males

Table 2

Means and Standard Deviation of the Mirror Tracing Task Day 2 – Day 6 for accuracy between men and women

Report

Gender

practice2_errors

practice3_errors

practice4_errors

practice5_errors

F

Mean

30.4850

24.7425

20.7844

18.1138

N

167

167

167

167

Std. Deviation

19.70134

15.14626

14.24574

13.26624

M

Mean

29.0833

25.1408

22.0000

20.2394

N

72

71

72

71

Std. Deviation

21.73512

19.37546

17.47916

15.56137

Total

Mean

30.0628

24.8613

21.1506

18.7479

N

239

238

239

238

Std. Deviation

20.29945

16.48019

15.26442

13.99079

Notes: F = Females; M = Males

The results for males for skill transferability in terms of speed when drawing the star shape were longer on day 1 however became shorter on day 7 compared to the females results. When drawing the face shape, males only have a slight difference in speed compared to women. The Standard Deviation and mean does not appear to have much of a difference in both results for both genders. The Tables below will demonstrate the results for both genders and both shapes. The results indicate that males score higher than females for skill transferability in terms of speed.

Table 1

Means and Standard Deviation of the Mirror Tracing Task Day 1 & Day 7 for speed between men and women – Star Shape

Report

Gender

Star_day1_time

F

Mean

155.9722

N

168

Std. Deviation

80.94931

M

Mean

183.7635

N

72

Std. Deviation

94.60747

Total

Mean

164.3096

N

240

Std. Deviation

86.02650

Notes: F = Females; M = Males

Table 2

Means and Standard Deviation of the Mirror Tracing Task Day 1 & Day 7 for speed between men and women – Face Shape

Report

Gender

day1_eyes_time

DAY7_EYES_TIME

day1_beard_time

DAY7_BEARD_TIME

day1_lips_time

F

Mean

68.9262

44.2241

50.1544

34.7455

39.1005

N

170

169

169

168

170

Std. Deviation

69.00433

33.65402

50.52303

35.44573

60.49047

M

Mean

73.8775

43.9458

51.7029

32.9751

37.2300

N

72

72

73

73

72

Std. Deviation

38.01924

20.52175

28.36886

20.76469

24.18248

Total

Mean

70.3993

44.1410

50.6215

34.2092

38.5440

N

242

241

242

241

242

Std. Deviation

61.40059

30.28893

44.94811

31.69008

52.33488

Notes: F = Females; M = Males

Discussion

The results of the study support both of the hypotheses for speed, accuracy and skill transferability between men and women. There are slight differences that are noticeable in mean and Standard Deviation in both men and women. The accuracy has improved over time for both genders however there was not a noticeable difference between them. Both genders also improved on their speed over the course of this task, however males did become faster than women when completing this task. As per Spence et al. (2009), the differences in spatial abilities between genders can be credited to learning. As identified by Voyer, Voyer and Bryden (1995), men tend to do better in performing some spatial tasks compared to women Spence et al. (2009), and according to this study men did perform better than women. Women tend to do better than men in tests of perceptual speed (Kimura 1992), verbal fluency and precision motor control, while males excel on some spatial tasks (O’Boyle, Hoff & Gill, 1995).

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The aim of this study was to determine whether speed and accuracy differs between genders and whether the difference in skill transferability of participants is different between genders. The results indicate that there is a difference in speed and accuracy between men and women when attending to spatial tasks. Men also tend to be able to score higher on skill transferability compared to women. These findings support the findings of O’ Boyle, Hoff and Gill (1995).

There were some issues identified with this study that may have affected the results. The data was collected after a week with no guarantee that the off campus students have not falsified their results. There is no way of tracking who actually did the task accurately and who made up their results. Another issue that was identified was that the results were due on a certain date and were then extended, however the submission area was not changed and all results were to be sent to the Tutor. Some students were late with their submissions and the results were released late, which minimised the time other students got to write up the report.

Overall, the results supported both hypotheses which indicated that men would generally be faster and more accurate than women when attending to the Mirror Tracing task as well as score higher on the skill transferability



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