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Alex Giffard, Caitlin Mullin, Jennifer Steeves; Sex and sexual orientation differences in perceptual processing.. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):505. doi: 10.1167/12.9.505.
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Research has identified sex differences on a number of perceptual processing tasks where one sex outperforms the other. For instance, female participants outperform males in face processing ability, perceptual speed, and language fluency, while males outperform females on certain navigational tasks. Further, sexual orientation has been shown to have a cross-sex shift where gay men’s performance resembles that of heterosexual females in lateralized cognitive tasks such as mental rotation and face recognition . We sought to confirm sex differences on a battery of perceptual processing tasks and in addition, to examine cross-sex shifts for gay men and women. We predicted that gay men will show more female typical behaviour on tasks that have previously shown sex differences. Participants performed a battery of tasks including; mental rotation, perceptual speed and accuracy, the Rod and Frame Test, the Symbol Digit Modalities Test, face recognition, mechanical and verbal reasoning, and spatial navigation, all of which have previously shown a sex difference. Participants’ sexual orientation was assessed with the Kinsey scale as well as the Klein sexual orientation grid. Preliminary results suggest gay males perform in a heterosexual female typical manner on all tasks where heterosexual females outperform males including face recognition, verbal reasoning, symbol digits and perceptual speed and accuracy. Surprisingly, on perceptual tests where heterosexual males tend to outperform females including the Rod and Frame test and mental rotation, gay males perform in a heterosexual male fashion. These early findings are consistent with previous studies showing sex differences, but in addition we show that sexual orientation contributes to sex effects such that gay males consistently exhibit the dimorphic sex advantage.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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