The Paleolithic Stone Age Effect? : Gender Differences Performing Specific Computer-Generated Spatial Tasks

The Paleolithic Stone Age Effect? : Gender Differences Performing Specific Computer-Generated Spatial Tasks

Geoffrey S. Hubona (Georiga State University, USA) and Gregory W. Shirah (National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA)
Copyright: © 2006 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/jthi.2006040102
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Abstract

Most computer applications feature visual user interfaces that assume that all users have equivalent propensities to perceive, interpret, and understand the multidimensional spatial properties and relationships of the objects presented. However, the hunter-gatherer theory (Silverman & Eals, 1992) suggests that there are modern-day differences between the genders in spatial and cognitive abilities that stem from differentiated prehistoric sex roles. If true, there may be discrepancies in how males and females differentially utilize particular spatial visual cues and interface features. We report three experiments in which participants engage in visual spatial tasks using 2D and 3D virtual worlds: (1) matching object shapes; (2) positioning objects; and (3) resizing objects. Female subjects under-perform male subjects in the matching and positioning experiments, but they outperform male subjects in the resizing experiment. Moreover, male subjects make more use of motion cues. Implications for the design of gender-effective user interfaces and virtual environments are considered.

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