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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|36054||2002||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 32, Issue 6, 19 April 2002, Pages 1101–1111
Prior research has shown strong sex differences in spatial ability and some researchers have argued that gender role socialization (i.e. the degree to which men and women internalize gender-related personality traits or act in gender-typed ways) mediates this relationship. This study provides a direct examination of the extent to which trait and behavioural components of gender role socialization mediate sex differences in spatial ability. The results of two path analyses show that, while sex is a significant predictor of spatial ability, only agentic personality traits significantly mediated that relationship.
Sexually dimorphic spatial abilities have been extensively documented (e.g. 13, 20 and 21). Typically it has been observed that men outperform women on tasks requiring mental rotation of a target item (e.g. 8, 31 and 36). Theoretical explanations of why the sex differences in spatial ability occur have included both evolutionary (Eals & Silverman, 1994) and hormonal mechanisms (11 and 16). However, relatively few researchers have examined the effects of gender role socialization on spatial ability. As such, there is the possibility that studies that have reported sex differences in spatial ability have actually been measuring the indirect effects of gender role socialization on this construct. Gender role socialization reflects the extent to which individuals internalize stereotypic notions about men’s and women’s personalities and act in gender stereotypic ways. Current conceptualizations of gender role socialization stress that, on a theoretical level, sex and gender are relatively independent of one another, meaning that men and women internalize both male-typed and female-typed personality traits and act in both male-typed and female-typed ways (e.g. 22, 23, 26 and 34). This contemporary, bidimensional conceptualization has been operationalized into current measurement tools such as the Personal Attributes Questionnaire (Spence & Helmreich, 1978) and the Sex Role Behavior Scale (Orlofsky, 1981). More specifically, these scales define masculine and feminine traits and behaviours as those which are equally desirable for men and women, but more stereotypically associated with men or women, respectively. Thus, even though sex may be correlated with possessing male- or female-typed traits or acting in male- or female-type ways, the relationship is not strong; in other words, sex is not confounded with gender role socialization. However, not all gender-typed personality traits and behaviours are bidimensional and relatively unrelated to sex; some traits and behaviours are more desirable for one gender than the other and are more strongly associated with one sex than the other. 18 and 19 refers to these as gender diagnostic aspects of socialization. Others refer to them as sex-specific characteristics (e.g. Orlofsky, 1981). Common measures of gender role socialization (e.g. Personal Attributes Questionnaire) and behaviours (Sex Role Behavior Scale) include items from both bidimensional and sex-specific domains. Few studies have examined the role that gender role socialization plays in spatial ability. While all of these studies have reported significant sex differences in spatial ability (e.g. 9, 10, 14, 15, 27, 29, 32 and 33), only two of these have found significant relationships between spatial ability and gender roles. In both these cases, spatial ability was positively related to masculine-typed gender role traits (14 and 27). Participation in gender-related behaviours has been hypothesized to play an especially salient role in the development and maintenance of spatial ability. Caplan and Caplan (1994) have argued that male-typed behaviours promote the development of spatial ability while female-typed behaviours do not. However, few studies have examined whether or not acting in gender-related ways is significantly related to spatial ability (9, 15 and 27). In one study, Ginn and Stiehl (1999) found that participants who performed male-typed spatial activities outperformed those who performed gender-neutral spatial activities. However, all of the participants who engaged in the male-typed spatial activities were men, and no other men reported engaging in any female-typed spatial activities; as such, this difference confounds sex and gender role socialization and, as a result, cannot provide an adequate explanation of the relationship between sex, gender roles, and spatial ability. Using an approach similar to Ginn and Stiehl, Parameswaran (1995) also failed to observe a relationship between spatial ability and gender-related behaviours. Finally, Kalichman (1988) examined participants’ skills and interests and found that men with interests in carpentry, mechanics, management and organization had significantly better spatial abilities than those without these interests; among women, those with interests in science and engineering had significantly better spatial ability scores. Although the literature suggests that gender role socialization may be a key factor in explaining sex differences in spatial ability (e.g. Caplan & Caplan, 1994), there are two limitations to the existing research that need to be addressed in order to determine the validity of this hypothesis. First, previous research has examined sex differences in spatial ability independently of the relationship between gender-role socialization and spatial ability. This approach allows researchers to examine only the main effects of sex and gender role socialization; it does not permit the researchers to determine the degree to which these two constructs combine to influence spatial ability. More specifically, Caplan and Caplan (1994) hypothesize that the gender role socialization mediates sex differences in spatial ability. Baron and Kenny (1986) note that, in order to test for mediation, three separate conditions must be fulfilled: (1) sex must predict spatial ability; (2) sex must predict gender role socialization; and (3) gender role socialization must predict spatial ability. None of the previous studies have met these criteria. The second limitation concerns the ways in which the previous researchers have operationalized the various gender role constructs. Typically, past research has used a categorical approach to determine gender role socialization. Using this method, people are classified as either male-typed, female-typed, or androgynous based on their responses to the male- and female-typed subscales of a gender role questionnaire. Contemporary gender role researchers, however, avoid this oversimplification and tend not to categorize participants in such a singular fashion. Rather, they acknowledge the importance of measuring male-typed and female-typed personality traits and behaviours separately in all participants. As well, they often include measurements of sex-specific personality traits or behaviours in addition to assessing the non-sex-specific aspects of gender role socialization, an emphasis that the categorical approach lacks. Combining both ways of operationalizing gender role socialization provides a richer perspective of the relationship between gender role socialization and other psychological constructs. In the present study, we overcome these two limitations by using the approach advocated by Baron and Kenny (1986) to test the extent to which male-typed, female-typed and sex-specific personality traits and behaviours mediate sex differences in spatial ability. Using a sample of undergraduate students, we tested two mediated path models. In our first model, we explored the degree to which gender-related personality traits mediated differences between men’s and women’s spatial ability. In our second model, we explored the degree to which gender-related behaviours mediated this cognitive construct.