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Gender Differences in Object-Location Memory with Concern to Evolutionary Theory

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Running Head: LOCATION MEMORY AND EVOLUTION

Gender Differences in Object-Location Memory with Concern to Evolutionary Theory

Introduction

Spatial cognition is the processing of visual info in terms of their spatial relationships. Spatial visualization, spatial orientation, and object and location memory comprise the three categories of spatial cognition. Female superior spatial ability regarding object-location memory arises from the presumption that during human evolution, women gathered food and men hunted for it. The Female Foraging hypothesis has been proposed specifically in relation to humans and is based on a presumed division of labor between the sexes during human evolution (Jones, C.M, Braithwaite, V.A., & Healy, S.D., 2003) It is proposed that the gathering aspect of foraging requires an accurate recollection of the locations of particular food sources (Silverman & Eals, 1992). Conversely, males tend to do better on tasks of spatial visualization and spatial orientation because hunting requires both of those skills. For example, our ancestral males used way finding in the woods while hunting and therefore have honed their skills in areas of spatial visualization and orientation.

Various studies provide that females are better at tasks of object-location memory. In one of the foremost studies of object-location memory, Silverman's and Eals's (1992) study, females proved superior to males in a test of object-location memory. However, in a similar study testing object-location memory, such findings were unable to be replicated (Montello, D. R., Lovelace, K. L., Golledge, R. G., & Self, C. M, 1999). The study did find, however, that females had significantly less error in metric placement of objects. Metric placement can be defined as the measurement of the distances between the objects' recalled locations and their actual locations (Montello et al., 1999).

This study closely resembles the procedure used in Silverman's and Eal's (1992) study that tests object-location memory compared for gender. This study will prove that females have an enhanced spatial ability concerning object-location memory by use of a paper and pen test due to the evolutionary influences of division of labor.

Method

Participants

Six participants were used to conduct the study. All participants were friends or family of the researcher, and resided in the South Florida area of the United States. Additionally, all of the participants were of the Caucasian race. Three participants were males, ages: 57, 34, and 22. Three participants were females, ages: 54, 32, and 22. The male mean age was 37.67, and the female mean age was 36.67. The mean age of all participants was 37.17.

Materials

Two printouts of various objects were used in this study. The first printout contained a few pictures of objects. The second printout consisted of pictures of objects identical to the first printout, but other pictures of objects were added to it. A stopwatch was utilized to time the participants at each of three stages.

Procedure

Participants were tested individually in a quiet, non-distracting room. Participants were told their memories would be tested. The participants were given the first printout to study for one minute as timed by a stopwatch. After one minute, the printout was removed, and the participants were engaged in conversation with the researcher for one minute. The participants were then given the second printout, and asked to circle only the objects that also appeared on the first sheet they had studied. Participants were given one minute to circle the objects. The researcher then counted the hits and misses of each participant. A hit can be defined as objects that participants circled on the second sheet that also appeared on the first sheet. Misses can be defined as objects that participants circled on the second printout, but did not appear on the first printout. The procedure took approximately five minutes.

Results

GENDER AGE HITS MISSES

Male 57 20 2

Male 34 22 0

Male 22 22 1

Female 54 20 0

Female 32 23 1

Female 22 24 0

The total average of hits for all participants is 21.83, and the total average of misses for all participants is 0.67. Males average 21.3 hits, and average 1 miss per trial. Average hits per trial for females equals 22.03, and average misses per trial for females equals 0.33.

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