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Confidence is key to women’s spatial skills

By [email protected] - 9th December 2011 - 12:48

Boosting a womanâs confidence makes her better at spatial tasks, University of Warwick scientists have found, suggesting skills such as parking and map-reading could come more easily if a woman is feeling good about herself
Previous studies have established that women are slower and less accurate than men on a range of spatial tasks.But new research carried out at the University of Warwick in England reveals that confidence levels play a key role in womenâs ability to perform spatial tasks.University of Warwick psychology researcher Dr Zachary Estes, working with Dr Sydney Felker from the University of Georgia Health Center, looked at womenâs ability to perform a standard 3D mental rotation task, while at the same time manipulating their confidence levels.They found that when they made women feel more confident about themselves, their ability to perform the task improved.The research paper, Confidence Mediates the Sex Difference in Mental Rotation Performance, is published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.Dr Zachary Estes said: âPrior research shows that women tend to do poorly on tasks that require spatial awareness.âThatâs borne out in the common jokes we always hear about men being better at parking and map reading than women.âBut we wanted to see why that was so we manipulated peopleâs confidence in our experiments with spatial tasks, and it does seem that confidence is a key factor in how well women perform at this kind of task.âOur research suggests that by making a woman feel better about herself, sheâll become better at spatial tasks â which in the real world means tasks such as parking the car or reading a map.âSo a little bit of confidence-boosting may go a long way when it comes to reversing the car into a tight parking spot.âThe researchers tested spatial ability through a series of four computer-based experiments on a total of 545 students at a university in the US.

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