Am I Right? The Effects of Feedback on the Performance in a Mental-Rotation Test in Children (Published)
Gender differences in paper-and-pencil mental-rotation tests are usually larger than in chronometric versions. Different task characteristics such as time constraints, number of items, or feedback could partly be responsible for these varying gender differences. In the present study, 40 male and 59 female fourth-grade children participated in a chronometric mental-rotation test. In the feedback condition, children got individual item-wise feedback while children in the non-feedback condition got no feedback about their performance. For reaction time, boys outperformed girls and overall, children in the feedback condition reacted faster than children who got no feedback. On a closer look, only boys but not girls benefited from the feedback and gender differences in favour of boys appeared only in the feedback condition. Results indicate that feedback encouraged boys to solve the items faster while it made no difference for girls. For mental-rotation as a spatial task that is perceived as more male-stereotyped, boys could have been more confident in their own ability. The feedback could then have enhanced this confidence so that boys felt sure enough to react faster. It seemed that girls were not able to use the feedback to reduce their own uncertainty.