Two experiments explored factors related to gender differences in Ponzo illusion susceptibility. In Experiment 1, 54 male and 54 female (predominantly white, middle class) undergraduates were administered Witkin's Embedded Figures Test (EFT) and, on 2 separate occasions, a form of the Ponzo illusion. Results showed the Ponzo to be quite reliable over several days. Females were significantly more field dependent (as shown by slower responses to the EFT), and significantly more susceptible to the Ponzo illusion, than males. Furthermore, EFT performance correlated significantly with Ponzo susceptibility for females, but not for males, suggesting that the difference between males and females in Ponzo response may be due not to differences in field independence per se, but rather to differences in the strategies used to solve the illusion task. In Experiment 2, 111 male and 148 female (predominantly white, middle class) undergraduates were administered the Ponzo illusion twice, the 2 administrations separated by about 90 min. Again, the illusion task showed good reliability, and females were significantly more susceptible to the illusion. Furthermore, the magnitude of the difference between males and females was systematically related to the sex ratio (the ratio of the number of males to the number of females) of the particular session in which each subject happened to be participating. It is suggested that social factors such as sex ratio might affect the strategies participants use when doing illusion tasks, and perhaps other spatial skills tasks as well.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 3, 2004
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