PROBLEM: Previous studies — and far too many sexist jokes — have discussed how women are not as skilled as men when it comes to tasks like parking and map-reading that require spatial awareness. University of Warwick psychologist Zachary Estes decided to find out if confidence could account for this gender difference.
METHODOLOGY: Together with University of Georgia Health Center’s Sydney Felker, Estes recruited 545 students for four experiments involving a 3-D mental rotation task that measures a person’s spatial skills. In one key trial, the authors manipulated each respondent’s level of confidence by either complimenting or criticizing their performance in an unrelated exercise before administering this test.
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