Burton et al 2005 Digit Ratios & Verbal Ability SAT Scores

Burton et al 2005 Digit Ratios & Verbal Ability SAT...

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Gender Differences in Relations of Mental Rotation, Verbal Fluency, and SAT Scores to Finger Length Ratios as Hormonal Indexes Leslie A. Burton Psychology Department Fordham University Debra Henninger and Jessica Hafetz Psychology Department Fordham University One hundred thirty-four university students (93 women, 41 men) were adminis- tered the Vandenberg Mental Rotation Test and the Thurstone Word Fluency Test, and they were asked to report their Scholastic Achievement Test scores. Finger lengths were measured, because literature has reported gender differences in the ratio of the 2nd to 4th, 2nd to 3rd, and 2nd to 5th finger lengths, such that the ratio is larger in women than in men. The goal of this study was to evaluate the relations between finger-length ratios and cognitive skills, such as spatial skills and verbal fluency, which have shown gender differences and direct relations to hormonal effects. Gender differences were found in the expected directions, such that the men per- formed better than the women for mental rotation, the women performed better than the men for verbal fluency, and the finger-length ratios were in the directions reported in the literature. The finger-length ratios showed an interesting relation with the cog- nitive variables for the men and women. For the men, better performance on the mea- sures, including mental rotation, verbal fluency, and verbal Scholastic Achievement Test score was associated with less of a male-typical finger-length ratio pattern, or higher ratios. For the women, better performance for mental rotation and verbal flu- ency was associated with less of a female-typical finger-length ratio pattern, or lower DEVELOPMENTAL NEUROPSYCHOLOGY, 28 (1), 493–505 Copyright © 2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Requests for reprints should be sent to Leslie A. Burton, Psychology Department, Fordham Univer- sity, 441 E. Fordham Rd., Bronx, NY 10458. E-mail: [email protected]
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ratios. Thus, in this group of college students, better cognitive performance was asso- ciated with a less gender-typical finger-length ratio, for both men and women. These findings are discussed in the context of other similar reports and a possible curvi- linear relation between hormones and cognition in normal populations. Gender differences have consistently been reported such that boys and men per- form better on a variety of spatial tasks than girls and women, and girls and women Linn, 1988; Linn & Petersen, 1985; Masters & Sanders, 1993; Bryden, 1995). There is much evidence that steroid hormones may influence spa- tial skills, and a smaller amount of data suggest hormonal effects on verbal skills (reviewed in Collaer & Hines, 1995; Halpern, 2000; Hines, 2004). A few recent studies have reported that finger-length ratios show consistent gender differences, with evidence suggesting that these finger-length ratios are also related to hor-
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Burton et al 2005 Digit Ratios & Verbal Ability SAT...

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