An analysis of the psychological treatment of women's visual perception

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An analysis of the psychological treatment of women's visual perception
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Subjects / Keywords:
Space perception   ( lcsh )
Sex differences (Psychology)   ( lcsh )
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Thesis:
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1986.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 107-118).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Pamela Vetro.
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Typescript.
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Vita.

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Full Text









A1 ANALYSIS OF THE
PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT OF
WOMEN' S VISUAL PERCEPTION











By


PAiMELA


VETRO


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY


UNIVERSITY


OF FLORIDA


















This


work


is dedicated


to a


better


educational


future


for women.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


First


and foremost,


wish


to thank my


parents,


Sam and. Kay


Vetro,


for their unmatched


emotional


support and for


their


financial


generosity.


Without


their


encouragement,


this


dissertation


would


nave


been


begun,


much


less


completed.


would also


like


to thank reference


librarian Dolores


Jenkins


gave


selflessly


of her time


in the interest of helping


struggling


student.


Alesia


Sheffield


was an invaluable


assistant


computer


expert.


Alesia saved me nany


hours of


work and


after


those


long


evenings


together


at the word


processor


was a good laughing


companion.


The graduate


student group


provided an


understanding


collective


ear.


Ahmad Narchi,


Jeff Roth,


iIargie


warner,


Anne


Campbell,


Rick


Karat


were


good


friends


throughout


the long


ordeal.


Dr. John Newell


taught me


computer


skills,


loaned me


computer,


and was a friendly


troubleshooter when


called


weekends with


computer questions.


help


is greatly


appreciate ed.


Also appreciated


the tine


consideration


committee


members


and co-chairs.


Dr. Robert


Shermana


was a wonderful


ally


without


whom


I might not


have


endured.














TABLE OF


CONTENTS


Page


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


ABSTRACT


0 0 0 S 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 S S 0 0 0 O


0 S 0 0 S S S S 0 0 0 S S S 0 S 0 5 0 6 0 S 0 S S 0 0


CHAPTERS


INTRODUCTION


56 0 0 0 0 5 0 5 6 0 0 0 0 0 S S S O 1


Functions of


Educational


Statement


patial Perception


Implications


of the


Problem


6 0 0 O 0 6 2


* S S S S S 0 0 0 0 S 0 6 S .
* S 0 S S 0 0 0 5 5 S 0 0 0 7


Purpose of this


Dissertation


. . . . 10


A REVIEW


OF THE


EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE


. . . 14


Maccoby


and Jacklin


. .* *.. . 14


Research
Summary


Since


Maccoby


and Jacklin


. . 19


0 S 0 S 4 0 0 O 0 0 S 5 0 0 0 0 0 S 0 0 0


III EVALUATION


OF THE EMPIRICAL


EVIDENCE


S 0 0 3


Concurrent Criterion
Predictive Criterion


Validity
Validity


* 0 0 5 0 0 S 0 0 S S 0
* 0 0 0 0 0 5 4 5 0 0 0


Diagnostic
Convergent
Conclusion


Validity
Validity


* 0 S S 0 0 5 0 5 S 0 5 0 S S 0
* S 5 0 0 S 0 5 S 0 0 S S S 0 0


0 0 6 5 0 0 0 S 0 6 0 S 0 0 0 0 0 S 6 0


THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH


TO PERCEPTION


S0* .. @ 48


Thurstone '


Model


0 S 0 0 0 S S S 5 0 S 0 S 0 5 0 0 0 0 0


Witkin's Model
Summary .


. O. t O. O .O . f
O O O I (I OII0I ( O O IIO O 0


Evaluation


of RFT Methodol


From


Within


Traditional


Paradigm


0 0 0 0 0 0 S 0 S 0 0 0 S O 0 0


ECOLOGICAL


APPROACH


TO PERCEPTION


5. 0 73


Ecologizing
Invariants
:isperceptio


Summary


Perception


0 0 S S S 0 6 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 S S


Io 0 5 0 0 0 S 0 0 6 5 5 0 6 0 5 S O 0
n g O . O O O . 0


. 0 0 0 5 0 S S 0 S 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 5 0

















CONCLUSIONS


All EXTENSION


OF ECOLOGICAL


THEORY


4 4 9


The Extent
The Effects
Ecological


of the


Sex Difference


S. . . .0 88


of Practice . .
Analysis of Sex Differences


on the Rod and


Frame


Test


0 9 4 9 0 S S 4 4 4 0 9 4


Other Observations


About


Sex Differences


in RFT Performance


S S 4 0 9 0 4 0 S S S S 0 0 4 0 .


Have


We Come


So Far


With


Little


ence


* 0 S S


Educational


Implications


. 0 0 4 4 9 6 0 0 0 0 6 0


REFERENCES


0 0 0 0 0 0 0 S 0 S 4 9 0 4 6 S 0 0 4 S S 0 4 S 0 4


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH


0 0 0 S 0 0 4 0 4 4 0 S 0 0 0 0 0 0 9 0 5















Abstract


of Dissertation


Presented


to the Graduate School


of the


University


of Florida in


Partial


Fulfillment


of the


Requirements


for the


Degree


of Doctor


of Philosophy


AN ANALYSIS
PSYCHOLOGICAL


OF THE


TREATMENT OF


WOMEN'


VISUAL


PERCEPTIOII


PAIELA


Hay,


VETRO


1986


Chairperson:


Co-chairperson:


Major


Hannelore


Department:


Wass


John Bengston
Foundations of


Education


well-known


conclusion regarding


sex differences


spatial


perception


was


evaluated


on empirical and


theoretical


grounds. Spatial ability

performance in athletics,


has been presumed necessary

mathematics, and science.


for

Tests


spatial ability


were found


to lack


criterion,


diagnostic,


convergent


validity.


There


is insufficient


evidence


for the


contention


that spatial


ability


limits academic


or athletic


performance.


Spatial


tests reflect


the psychometric


tradition.


The lack












In their


text,


The Psychology


of Sex Differences,


Jacklin dichotomize spatial ability.


This dichotomy


of snatiai


abilities


is not


supported


empirical


evidence.


Alternative


measures


of the


same


spatial


ability


correlate


as highly


with


tests


of the other type


of ability


as they


do with


measure


of the


same


ability.


The history


of ons of


the so-called spatial


tests


the Rod


and Frame


Test


was traced.


The RFT


was evaluated


both for


its methods and for


its rationale.


The RFT was


evaluated


with


logic


problems


consistent


were found,


to its assumptions.


Numerous


which render the


methodological


invalid


as an indicator


of practical functioning.


Additionally,


the theoretical


basis for


the RFT was


evaluated from


the vantage


point


of an alternative


theory


of visual


perception,


the ecological


theory


of James


Gibson.


Ecological


theory was applied


to the issue


sex differences


in visual


perception.


Ecological


theory


predicts


that


women


nave


accurate


visual


perception since


both function


adaptively.


It further predicts


that


visual


perception improvos


with


effects


experience.


Tnis


of practice


contention


on spatial


was supported


tests.


Ontogenic


data on


experience


the

could


account for the


sex


differences


that do occur on


traditional


tests.


Therefore,


educational


practices,


such


as the widespread


:accoby


men















CHAPTER


INTRODUCTION


prevalent


belief


in psychology


is that


women


as a group


show


less ability


on tests designed


to measure


the perception


spatial


relationships.


Textbooks on general


psychology


e.g.


Mussen


& Rosenzweig,


1977,


135),


child development


Papalia


& Olds


, 1981,


Yussen


& Santrock,


1982


roles


Freeman,


1980,


Tavris


& Offir,


1977,


p. 33

men,


report


on the


that


variety


there


of tests


a significant sex difference,


that are


favoring


purportedly representative


of spatial ability.

Gage and Berliner's


A typical

Educational


treatment of

Psychology:


the issue occurs in

"In spatial ability


males have a clear superiority.


Of all


the differences in


intellectual activity,


those


in spatial


ability


seem most


likely


to originate


in genetic differences


between


sexes


" (19


200-2


01).


The source most commonly


differences


cited


in perception is


to support


Psychology


the claim for sex


of Sex Differences


IIaccoby


and Jacklin


(1974).


The authors review thousands


articles


on various aspects


of potential


sex


differences and


conclude


that


a consistent


sex difference


is apparent


on measures


of visuo-spatial abilities,


and that


"the male advantage


emerges


sex


v












ilaccoby


and Jacklin,


this advantage


approximately


equal


standard deviations


-352).


Following


this vein


, Kagan


1982


reports that


"one of


hardiest generalizations


that has


emerged from studies


differences


in intellectual


European men


functioning


outperform


women on


is that


tests


American and


of spatial


reasoning"


usually

. 1225).


Current research


on the


topic


is not


concerned


with


establishing the


validity


of the claim of


male


superiority


in spatial


perception.


Hundreds of


research articles,


encompassing several fields,


begin


with Maccoby


and Jacklin's


conclusion

the conclus


that men are superior i

ion of feminine spatial


n spatial

inability


perception.


accepted,


Indeed

while


controversy


surrounds


the cause


of this limitation.


specifically,


the cause


thought


to be genetic


Bock


& Kolakowski,


1973,


Boles,


1980


Hartlage,


1970


Hier,


1979


Jensen,


1975;


I accoby


Jacklin,


1974;


Stafford


, 1961


Yen,


1975


a result of


structural


deficiency


brain


(Levy


& Reid,


1978


DeLacoste-Utamsing


Holloway,


1982


Buffery,


1971


Buffery


& Gray


, 1972),


or due


insufficient


testosterone


in females


(Hier


& Crowley


, 198


Furthermore,


been assumed


women's apparent inferiority


to be a contributing factor


in spatial


that has


perception


limited


their proficiency


in many


areas


of practical


functioning.


The Functions of


Spatial Perception


sex












must


avoid


obstacles;


to eat,


it must locate food,


grasp,


guide


to the mouth.


performance of


these and


other


basic


functions depends


relationships


on the individual

the environment and


being able to


between


perceive


the environment and


itself.


Athletics.


Excellence


in athletics requires


more refined


perceptual

In many at


judgments


hletic


than are


events,


called for in routine


greater speed and accuracy


functioning.

of perceptual


judgments are essential for advanced


performance.


Some have


suggested


that men excel


in some sports


because of


their superior


spatial abilities.


For example,


Kolakowski and Malina


(1974)


argue that males have had an


evolutionary


advantage in


development of


spatial


skills.


This,


they


presume,


is because of


men's heritage as hunters.


prey,


Hunters


throw their spear accurately,


were


and find


better able


their way


to locate


home had


better chance of


did not develop


survival.


the skills


According


that


to this hypothesis,


were necessary for


women


hunting,


thus,


related spatial skills lagged.


Mechanical


competence.


Spatial ability


believed


to play


an important role in mechanical


competence


(Anastasi,


1983


Bock


Kolakowski,


1973;


McGee,


1979;


Sells,


1980


Williams


& Brekke,


1979).


This reflects


the origin of


spatial ability tests


which


initially were called


tests of


mechanical ability.


women are












mechanical competence:


Women have an


underlying deficit in an


ability


that is required


to understand mechanical relationships.


Academic


performance.


The same


idea,


that


there


is an


underlying


element restricting performance


been suggested for


women's


underachievement in mathematics.


Women generally


are


less


accomplished


than men in mathematics;


it has


been argued


that


this


is the case


because of


the gender difference


in spatial ability.


The connection


between mathematics learning


the spatial


component is repeatedly


drawn


(Aiken,


1971;


Burnett,


Lane,


Dratt,


1979


Ernest,


1980;


Harris,


1978


Maccoby


& Jacklin,


1974;


McGee,


1979


Schratz,


1978


Sherman


& Fennema,


1978).


It is


suggested


that


poor performance in mathematics results


from


cognitive deficit in spatial ability.


Fennema


contends that spatial


visualization ability


involved at all levels of mathematics.


The number


line,


example,


is a spatial representation


of whole numbers.


Similarly


geometrical reasoning is closely associated


with


spatial ability


in that


both involve the


visualization and/or mental rotation of


objects.


Spatial ability


is believed


, by


Fennema and


others,


to affect


mathematics


performance.


Mathematics


performance,


in turn,


seen


Sells


(1980)


as the critical filter for scientific


achievement.


Spatial ability,


then,


at least


indirectly


affects












spatial ability


a necessary


component for proficiency


science

1974; N


(e.g.,


national


Hendrikz,

Research


1975;

Council


Jensen,

, 1983;


1975;


Maccoby


Steinkamp


& Jacklin,


& Maehr,


1983).


The case


is most


often made with reference to


proficiency


chemistry.


example,


it is


believed


that a chemist must


able to visualize the configuration of


complex molecular


structures.


When a new


compound is formed,


the chemical structure


changes.


This necessitates,


on the part of


the chemist,


a mental


appreciation of


women are


the structural


inferior in


transformation of


the ability to


the molecule.


perform mental


transformations of the


type required in chemistry,


then


this may


be the


basis for the


small number of


women in


that field.


Other functions.


Other activities


which differences


spatial


perception are assumed


to account for


performance


differences


include chess and musical


composition


(Harris,


1978),


map reading and maze


learning


(Harris,


1978


Keogh,


1972;


McArthur,


Crocker,


& Folino,


81),


computer


proficiency


(Kiesler,


Sproull,


& Eccles,


. Spatial ability,


each


case,


is assumed


to limit


performance of women.


Educational


Implications


Women are


believed


be inferior


in an ability that is


taken


to have widespread


behavioral


influence.


The documentation for


feminine spatial inferiority


vast and supposedly


authoritative,













able to


perform at adequate


levels


of proficiency,


then school


difficulties in mathematics and science


will


"be accepted


inevitable"


for females


(Hendrikz,


1975,


p. 221).


The underrepresentation


women


in mathematics and science


is a situation


that has characterized


those fields


from


their


inception


(Rossiter,


1982).


If the dominant


view


women's


spatial ability is


warranted,


attempts


to remedy


female


underrepresentation


cannot


be successful and


, thus,


will


be a


waste of


educational resources.


There


is currently


a shortage of


trained


personnel in many


areas of


science and


technology,


especially


in education


where


teacher shortages in mathematics and science are


the subject of


much


current discussion.


This need has


been


widely


identified.


Some have referred


Projects have


shortages.


to the shortage as a crisis


been initiated in an attempt


The importance


(Mervis,


to correct


of mathematics and science


1983).


teacher


education


been emphasized


by the


Institute for School Development at


State


University


of New


York:


"Unless


our nation is able


improve the


teaching


of science and mathematics


the impact on


economy


and society


at large


will


be a misfortune of


catastrophic


proportions"


1982,


p. ii).


women are


inferior in spatial ability


, this


is a


basis


existing occupational


Patterns.


But if


the hvDothesis


is not


our












Statement of


Problem


The research


conclusion of


feminine


inferiority


in spatial


perception has


potentially far reaching consequences


for women's


achievement.


The practical


significance


that it conveys


negative expectations for


women's achievement,


which may


needlessly


discourage


women from


pursuing certain academic and


vocational


careers.


The truism regarding sex differences


spatial


perception is


based


on research using several


tests


which


purportedly measure spatial ability.


Spatial ability


is assumed


to be an


underlying trait


which affects


performance across a range


of tasks.


validity


problem


of the tests of


of the theoretical


under


investigation here


spatial ability.


orientation


of trait


concerns


The tests are


psychology.


products


Therefore,


the theory


itself,


as well as


the tests,


will


be evaluated.


The tests


of spatial


perception


yield


conflicting evidence


regarding women's


widespread


performance:


There may not


belief regarding feminine


be warrant for the


spatial functioning.


If the


truism is


valid,


then


the associated implications may


also


invalid.


The implications


of the commonly


held


truism are large,


so that rigorous


examination of


belief


is needed.


Although Maccoby


and Jacklin


(1974)


claim


to be social


learning theorists,


they


admit


that


their research on sex


differences forces them into the


trait


psychology paradigm












There are many assumptions


inherent


to trait


psychology,


most


of which


can


be traced


to two beliefs


(Turvey


, 1977).


The two


basic assumptions are


interwoven


conceptually


, but


will


considered in


turn.


Turvey


suggests


that


the overarching


assumption


of traditional


perceptual


theories


"organism discretely


samples


the environment"


(Turvey,


1977,


75).


The second major assumption underlying traditional


perceptual


theory


is the belief


that


the information


that reaches


the eye


is inadequate for visual


perception.


Both of


these


assumptions are evident in


theory


cited


Maccoby


Jacklin.


A chief


concern


of this dissertation is


that


traditional


perceptual


field,


theory


with its assumptions,


which subsequently


guides research in


influences educational


practice.


the

There


evidence


theoretical


which suggests


conception is


that


not solid


warrant for the


or valid.


underlying


If the theory


conceived,


the educational


then


the derived research on sex differences and


implications drawn from


that research are


following an inappropriate


course.


Educational


practice


influenced


by teacher education


textbook


conclusions.


These


conclusions are a


problem if


they are widely reported


but not


supported


by the data.


The null hypothesis of


concern in


this dissertation


that


there are no


sex differences i


n spatial


perception.


is the


that












research


will


first


be analyzed from


within the dominant


paradigm


to see if


the evidence


sufficiently


strong and


internally


consistent


not,


to warrant a rejection of


the null hypothesis stands.


the null hypothesis;


One prediction from the


traditional


view is


that if


there are


biologically


determined


differences


in an ability


to perceive,


then


existing groups


known


to differ


in function should manifest


those differences


on a


variety


of related


tests.


Also,


experimental


training


manipulations


should enhance one group,


biologically


advantaged males,


more than


other.


These


conditions are


necessary for a rejection


of the null hypothesis.


The hypothesis


can also


be evaluated from


outside


paradigm

of spatial


There


is an alternative


perception,


which is


to the


traditional


the ecological


theory


conception

of visual


perception


proposed


James


* Gibson


(1979).


Ecological


theory


takes


exception


to the two


basic


beliefs


of the


traditional


paradigm and has


been


called a revolutionary paradigm in


Kuhnian sense


(Michaels


& Carello,


1981).


ecological


alternatives


to the


traditional assumpions are,


first,


that


perception involves


environment,


a continuous interaction


between an animal and


without discrete sampling or finite


stimuli.


Second,


ecological


theory


assumes


that


information available


the organism is


adequate


for veridical


perception.












1979)


Jester,

(Turvey


, perception in


1960)


& Carello,


pictures


to stand


1981).


(Bengston,


as a general


The historical


Stergios,


theory


Ward,


of cognition


origins of both


traditional and


1973).


ecological


, recently,


Daradigms


first steps have


has been


been


traced


taken


(Lombardo,


to apply


ecological


theory to social


perception


(McArthur


& Baron,


1983


Until now,


ecological


theory


has not


been


extended


to the question


differences


in spatial


perception.


This research will


consider the null hypothesis


no sex


differences


in spatial


perception from


the vantage


point of


ecological


theory,


thereby


extending

Purpose of


ecological


this


theory.


Dissertation


Originally,


this dissertation


was to be


an empirical


assessment


to determine


if there are


sex differences


visual


perception when considered from an

reviewing the existing literature,


that


the research already


ecologica

however,


published is


perspective.


it became


sufficient for


Upon


apparent

answering


the question.


What is needed is


a synthesis and


evaluation


that research and


theoretical rationale.


This dissertation,


then


in addition


to reviewing and analyzing the empirical


evidence, i

Traditional


s a study

perceptua


in theory

1 theory,


evaluation and

as it applies


construction.

to sex differences,


will


be analyzed.


logic


of the


existing research


of the


sex












purpose of


this dissertation


to determine


the extent


to which


there


is warrant for interpreting performance on


tests


of spatial


perception as


indicative of


an underlying


ability


that is


functionally


related


to problem solving and


performance


such


endeavors as mathematics and science.


There are


hundreds


tests


which


purport


to measure


spatial ability


(Arbuthnot,


1972;


Handler


& Stein,


1977),


differing widely


in approach.


This


dissertation


will


evaluate


validity


of spatial ability tests,


giving special


emphasis


to the tests


which Maccoby


and Jacklin


(1974)


have designated as


the measures


of spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability.


1975,


over 2000


studies


been


conducted


using these tests


(Barrell


& Trippe,


1975).


Essentially,


the entire dissertation is related


to construct


validity


in the largest sense:


Do the


tests


of spatial


perception


measure


what


they purport


to measure?


procedure


reporting construct


validity


is to make clear what interpretation


of the construct is


proposed,


how adequately the writer


believes


this


interpretation is substantiated,


what evidence and


reasoning leads


to this


belief


(Cronbach


& Meehl,


1967).


To that


snd this dissertation


will


evaluate the use of


the construct


as it


appears in


the psychological literature.


This


spatial


evaluation of


empirical data on sex differences


perception also will include an analysis of


concurrent












is to determine


if the claims made


perception are supported


In discussions


by measures


of criterion


or the tests

of practical


validity,


of spatial

functioning.


the correlational


method is


used.


The reported


correlations are usually


between a


so-called ability measure


and a


performance measure.


Concurrent


criterion


validity refers


to the correlation


of two measures


given


at about


same


time.


Predictive critierion


validity


determined


correlating test scores measured at one


time


with


subsequent


performance.


If women are inferior in spatial


perception


as measured


traditional


tests,


then


this deficit


should

same t


be apparent in


ime


practical


(concurrent criterion


functioning

validity) a


assessed at about


later performance


(predictive criterion


validity).


Diagnostic validity


is concerned


with a


test's


accuracy


discriminating


between groups known


to differ in functioning.


practical functioning is affected


spatial ability


as measured


by the


popular tests,


then


test differences


should occur when


people


known to differ in functioning are measured.


For example,


athletic competence


is partially


dependent


upon


spatial


ability,


then a group of highly


skilled athletes


would


be expected


to have a higher test score.


The diagnostic


validity


of tests


spatial


perception is


evaluated in


this dissertation.


Convergent


validity


is concerned


with


whether alternative












correlation.


Relevant


studies


concerned


with


that


issue


are also


reviewed in


this dissertation.


This dissertation


will


conclude


proposing a


theoretical


outline


of perceptual functioning from an


ecological


perspective.


An ecological


view


sex


differences


in perception


will


developed.


Predictions regarding


sex differences


perceptual


functioning will


be drawn


from


ecological


theory.


Gibson


(1979)


has not addressed,


except in


passing,


the possibility


differences


in perception,


nor


have other


ecological


theorists.


This


work,


therefore,


will represent an ecological reformulation


of the issue,


which


will


serve


to extend ecological


theory


pose questions for experimental


testing.


sex


















CHAPTER


A REVIEW


OF THE


EMPIRICAL


EVIDENCE


In this


chapter,


the empirical


basis


for the


truism


regarding


sex differences


in spatial


perception


will


be reviewed.


Thore


two areas


of focus


in this


chapter.


First


a review


of the


empirical


evidence that has


been


basis


Maccoby


Jacklin


s (1


well-known


conclusion.


Second,


the empirical


evidence


that has


been


published since that


time


will


be reviewed.


MIaccoby


and Jacklin


Maccoby


Jacklin's


text,


Psychology


of Sex Differences


(1974)


, [all references


to Maccoby


and Jacklin's


research are


the 1974


work,


unless


otherwise noted]


is credited


with


establishing that males have superior ability


on tests


of spatial


perception


(Hyde,


1981:


Kiesler,


Sproull


& Eccles,


1983


Richmond,


1980).


Reviews


of their text


tout


work


invaluable,


monumental,


and influential


(Wrightman,


1978)


a book displaying skill and


balanced


judgment


(Emmerich,


75).


The Psychology


of Sex


Differences


is a frequently


cited reference


partly

(Block,


because


of what is


called its


extensive documentation


1976).


are












published

scores an


between


alyzed


1966 and

gender.


1974 that rep

The research


orts


that


the results


they


of test


review involves


dozens


of different measures


of spatial


perception.


Maccoby


and Jacklin make no attempt


to define spatial


perception or spatial ability.


Instead


they


comment


that spatial


ability


is "difficult


to define"


and describe some


of the


tests


used


assess


spatial ability.


Among these


tests are


Thurston's


called


Primary


the Flags


Mental


test,


Abilities


presents


Spatial


subjects


subtest.


with a


The subtest,


picture of


American flag


a set of


four flags that are


oriented


differently.


The subject


is asked


to choose


which of


the four


a rotation


of the


original flag;


incorrect choices are mirror


reversals.


A second spatial


test described


Slaccoby


and Jacklin


involves drawings


gear


systems.


The subject


is directed


determine


how the


system


would


change


a specified


part


were


motion.


A third group of


spatial


tests


"requires


the subject


separate an item


from its


background ignoring the


latter"


(Ilaccoby


& Jacklin,


1974,


P. 93


iaccoby


and Jacklin consider this


third


group of


tests


to represent a different


type


of spatial ability


called


"analytic


spatial ability"


Subsequently,


they


dichotomize


the research on spatial ability


based


on this analytic


dimension


of the


tests.


Their sole


explanation for the dichotomy


is that













many


tests


of spatial ability,


I accoby


and Jacklin designate


several as measures


of spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability.


Chief


among these are


Witkin'


Rod and Frame


Test


(RFT)


and Embedded


Figures


Test


(EFT)


and Koh's


Block Design


(KBD)


subtest


of the


Wechsler


Intelligence


Scales.


Dozens of


other


tests,


however


diverse,


are classified


as measures


of nonanalytic


spatial


perception not


because


they


share


common


characteristics,


because


they


lack


the "analytic"


component.


Having decided


that


there are


two types of


spatial


tests


corresponding to two types


of spatial ability


, Maccoby


and Jacklin


compute


what


they


call a


box score


for each


type.


The box score


refers


to the number


of studies


that


show significant


differences


compared


with


the number which do not.


If the


majority


of studies show


a sex


difference,


consistently


favoring


one sex,


then


the authors


conclude that a


sex difference


has been


established.


Each study


is given equal


weight


when


it is computed


the box score.


Maccoby


Jacklin' s


score


conclusion is


the same for


both


types of


spatial ability.


For each


type,


sex differences


not present in


childhood


outperform females.


through adulthood,


until adolescence,


The difference


persists,


but disappears in


age;


rhen males

in some


where


begin


studies,


a sex


difference


occurs,


it generally


favors men.


sex


are











adolescents,

superiority.


snow


The box


a male

score


superiority,


for this


type of


three show


ability


a female


in adults


considers


separate


studies


(some


using multiple measures).


these,


find no


sex difference,


14 find.


a sex difference


favoring men,


and in no case


was a difference


favoring women


obtained


(see


Table


Iaccoby


and Jacklin' s


score


spatial


(visual-nonanalytic)


ability


considers


separate


studies


involving children and adolescents


(some


studies


use multiple


measures).


Twenty-two of


these measurements


show no


difference,


two show


a female


superiority


six show


a male


superiority


(pp.


score


for this


type of


ability


in adults


considers five separate studies


(some


with multiple


measures). 0

The remaining


f these,


two measurements


four measurements


show


show no


significant


sex difference.

tly better


performance


males


see


Table


Because noted


sex differences


in adult


samples


consistently


favor males,


IIaccoby


and Jacklin


conclude


that


the male


superiority


on both


types


of spatial ability


"fairly well


established"


351).


From


this


statement


grew


the now universal


truism regarding the

It is difficult


different abilities o

to understand how the


f the

sex


sexes.

difference


spatial


Ita^e.L -L-1 1j L ^J


(visual-analytic)


mt ., -


4-


ability


could b

a~ -- a a


e considered


a a'


-~~~~ a a- OP a.,


sex


*












Table


SUIaIARY


OF MACCOBY


AND JACKLIN' S


BOX SCORES


FOR TWO


TYPES


SPATIAL ABILITY.


Spatial

Male
Advantage


(Visual-Analytic)

Female
Advantage


Ability

No Sex
Difference


Children

Adults


Spatial (Visual-Nonanalytic)

Male Female
Advantage Advantage


Ability

No Sex
Difference


Children

Adults












the total number of


measures


small


(six).


Here too,


though,


there


is evidence to


suggest


that there


is not a


sex


difference.


iiore


will


be said about


box score method,


the dichotomy


, and


the tests


in a later section


of this


chapter.


Research


Since


Maccoby


Jacklin


A computer search


of the literature reveals


studies


differences


in what Maccoby


(visual-analytic)


and Jacklin


ability that have


been


term


spatial


published since


1974.


The results are


presented in


Table


using the


format


which


Maccoby


those


and Jacklin


involving


employ.


children


The studies are


as subjects


are


arranged


so that


presented first,


in the


order


of the subjects'


age.


The tests of


adult differences appear


next,


presented in alphabetical


order


author.


Referring to


Table


easy


to conclude


that


variables


that may


have


caused


sex difference


in spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability


prior to


1974 are no


longer present


same


extent.


Of the six measurements


involving


children


adolescents,


none show


a male advantage,


one a female advantage,


and five indicate that


measurements wi

nine showing no


there


is no


th adults are fc

sex difference.


sex


difference.


ur suggesting a

The empirical


male


Among the


advantage and


research


published


since


1974 suggests


that


sex differences


in what Maccoby


Jacklin


term spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability now


occur with less


sex












Table


SPATIAL


(VISUAL-ANALYTIC)


ABILITY


THE RESEARCH


SINCE


1974.


Study


and N


Direction
Advantage


Test


Comment


Schratz


Elementary


None


CEFT


High


School


Females


GEFT


(120


Hispanic


High


school


None


GEFT


Years


Waber
1976


None


(80)


10-16


Years


(so)


None


Signorella
& Jamison


1978


Eighth Grade
(93)


None


GEFT


Allen


Hogeland
1978


Adults
(100)


Males


Cooper


& Ross


1980


Hannay
1976


Johnson,


Flinn


& Tyer


1979


McGlone
Kertes z


College
Students
(407)


College
Students
(60)


College
Students
(82)


Adults
(324)


None


None


None


None


Brain-Damaged


Blue,


10-16












Table 2--continued


Sherman


1974


College
Students
(50)


Hone


College
Students
(50)


None


Snall,
Gross


Erdwin s,


Gessner
1979


College
Students
(106)


hone


GEFT


Walker


Kransnoff


1978


Witecki


1978


College
Students
(88)


College
Students
(100)


None


None


Wormack


1979


College
Students
(106)


Males


GEFT


Wormack


1980


College
Students
(108)


Males


Note:
subject


Numbers
s (N).


from research


in parentheses refer to


The solid
conducted


bar in


with


the tab


children


the total number
le indicates the


to research


transition


conducted


with


adults.
Test; K
Scales;


RFT=The


BD=Koh's


Rod and Frame Test;


Block Design Subtest of


GEFT=The Group


Embedded Figures


EFT=The


Embedded Figures


the Wechsler


Test;


CEFT=The


Intelligence


Children'


Embedded Figures


Test.












A summary

Of the 19


of the research


separate


on this ability


measurements


presented


using children and


Table


adolescents


subjects,


eight determine


boys


to be significantly


better,


with


the remaining

(nonanalytic)


11 showing no


ability.


sex difference


Of the


on tests


of spatial


separate measurements


with


adults,


there are no


sex differences


on 11


measures.


There


are 16


measures

advantage


showing

. It is


a male advantage

only with adults


and one showing


and only


a female


on nonanalytic


ability


, that


a majority


of studies


indicate


a male


advantage


Table 4).


It is important


to consider


, however


, the quality


of the


studies included in


score method


the computation


a convenient


of the box score.


way of reviewing numerous


The box

studies


one area.


But,


its utility


ends


there.


There are many problems


with


the box score method,


some of


which are acknowledged


Uaccoby a

extensive


nd Jacklin


bias,


themselves.


sex


For example,


differences research


there may


that


be an


consistently


favors one


sex.


Maccoby


Jacklin


write,


"We recognize


that it is quite


possible that


the minority


of studies might


turn


out to have more than a kernal of


truth.


With stereotyping and


biases


being


as common


as they


are


in the field of


differences,


it is


quite


possible


that


the majority


of studies


were all distorted in_


same


direction"


see


sex












Table


SPATIAL


(VISUAL-NONANALYTIC)


ABILITY :


RESEARCH PUBLISHED


FROI


1974-1984


Study


and N


Direction
Advantage


Test


Comment


Vasta,


Regan


& Kerley
1980


10 Years
(48)


None


Pattern


Copying


Jahoda


10-14


Years


Males


Block


Construction


(72)


11 Years


None


Mental Rotations


7-11


Years


None


Shape Assembly


(72)


Richmond


1980


10 Years
(469)


Males


Figures,


Flags


and Cards
(Thurston' s


None

None


Gottschaldt


Paper


Figures


Folding


Johnson
Kelly,
Kelly
1980


, Sixth Grade
& (246)


Males


Pendulum Drawing


Signorella
& Jamison


1978


Eighth
(93)


Grade


lMales


Card


Rotations


Grade


Sherman
1980


None


483)


Sherman
Fennema


Ninth Grade
(313)


None


1978












Table


3--continued


HcGilligan
& Barclay
1974


Ninth


Grade


None


(40)


Jahoda


12-16


Years


Males


Mental Rotations


1980


(Ghana and


Scotland)


Waber


10-16


Years


None


Hone


High School
(2477)


Digit Symbol


Iales


Males

Males


MPFB

Shepard-Metzler
Mental Rotations


Williams


15-1


Years


None


MPFB


Brekke


1979


Birkett


16-42


Years


Males


1980


None


2-D Nonverbal


Reasoning


None


MPFB


Bouchard
& McGee


College
Students


IMales


Mental


Rotations


1977


and their
(396


ents


Burnett


Lane


1980


College
Students
(142)


Males


Identical


Blocks


Test












Table


3--continued


Burnett,


Lane


College


Males


Identical


Blocks


& Draft
197


Students
9 (264)


Test


ELmore
& Vasu


College
Students
(188)


1980


;ales


Males


Ilales

Males


Guilford-Zimrerman


Card


Rotations


Cube Comparison

:IPFB


None


Surface


None


Paper


Development

Folding


Fralley
Eliot &
Dayton


College
Students


Males


Eliot-Price


Test


and Families
(474)


Males


Identical Blocks


Test


Hughs,
Wilson-Derose,
& Kiely
1980


College
Students
(100)


Females


Form


Identification


Kail,


Carter,


& Pellegrino


College
Students
(104)


Hone


Males


Speed of Rotation


McGee
1976


College
Students
(112)


Male


Mental


Rotations


McGee
1978b


College
Students
(347)


Males


Mental Rotations












Table


3--continued


L;cKeaver


Van Doventer


1977


College
Students
(151)


Males


Stafford' s


Blocks


Identical


Test


Parasnis
& Long
1979


e 20
144)


None


(Deaf)


Petrusic,
Varro, &
Jamieson


College
Students
(32)


Males


Card


Rotations


1978


Segalowitz
& Stewart


1979


Sherman


1974


College
Students
(60)


College
Students
(50)


None


Spatial


Identification


(Tachistoscopic)


None


Small,
Erdwins, Gross
& Gessner


College
Students
(106)


None


MPFB


1979


Males


Digit


Symbol


Wormack


College
Students
(106)


None


None


Gestalt


Surface


Completion


Development
Test


Note:
subject


Numbers
s (N).


from research


in parentheses refer to


The solid
conducted


bar in


with


the total number of


table


children


indicates


the transition


to research conducted


with


adults.


DAT=Differential Aptitude


Test;


PMA=Primary


Mental


Abilities


test;


Dimensional;


2-D=2


Paper


Form Board;


Dimensional.


3-D=3


MPFB=ijnnesota












Table


SCORE SUi HIARY


OF EItPIRICAL MEASURES OF


SEX DIFFERENCES


IN TWO


TYPES OF SPATIAL ABILITY


1974-1984.


Spatial

:Iale
Advantage


(Visual-Analytic)

Female
Advantage


Ability

No Sex
Difference


Children

Adults


Spatial (Visual-Nonanalytic)

Male Female
Advantage Advantage


Ability

No Sex
Difference


Children

Adults












significant differences.


Thus,


there may


an underreporting


research


showing


A third


no significant difference


problem


with


between


the box score method


sexes.


the tendency


weigh


each study


equally when in fact


the studies


vary


power.


A study


using


a large number of


subjects


will find


significant


differences


when


small amount.


the mean scores


Where


the researcher


of males and females differ


uses a small number


subjects,


a greater


sex difference


is needed


to produce


statistical significance.


A fourth


problem


with


the box score method is


that results


from dissimilar tests are


pooled for the


sake of


a generalized


conclusion.


In fact,


however,


many


of the


interest correlations


weak


or even negative.


, for


example,


results


from


three


different


tests


are to be pooled


to determine


whether women and


men have


similar


spatial ability


, then


the tests


should measure


the same construct.


In this


case


, the construct in


question


spatial ability


as delineated


Idaccoby


Jacklin.


4accoby


and Jacklin have drawn a conclusion regarding


differences


spatial ability


that is


problematic


in that


based


on equivocal data.


there is no more


reverse.


evidence


For spatial-analytic ability


to suggest a sex difference


For spatial-nonanalytic ability


in adults,


in adults,


than


a small


number of


studies


were used in


the computation of


the box


score


sex


are


sex












differences,


whereas


studies


finding no


sex differences


likely


to be published.


This


weakens the


claim


that a


difference


in spatial


perception is strong and


well


established.


In their review


of children's ability,


Maccoby


Jacklin


find no


basis for a


sex difference


in spatial


ability


of either


type.


On the basis


of this research


there are no grounds


differential


treatment of


boys and girls


educational


settings.


Summary


In this review


data


of the


published after their


Iaccoby


collection,


Jacklin data


a majority


, as well


of studies


suggest


that


there


are no sex differences


in analytic spatial


ability


in adults.


More than


twice


as many


studies


show no


difference


than report a significant sex


difference.


In tests


nonanalytic


ability


in adults,


the data since


1974 are


somewhat


suggestive


a sex difference


studies


show


a male


advantage,


one a female advantage,


11 show no sex difference).


Again,


the fact


that


publication


is more


likely to occur when statistical


significance


is found may


affect


box score.


It is also


important


to consider the nature


of the tests


of nonanalytic


ability.


One such


test


which involves


judgments


about gear


systems,


for example,


draws


on a domain of


experience


that


more


familiar to males.


It is


entirely


possible


that


test differences


reflect differences


in experience and learning rather than genetic


are


sex













do not.


If spatial ability


how is it that so many


studies


is a sex-linkedc


find no


genetic


trait,


sex differences,


then


while


some


show a feminine advantage?


Tests


The lack


tests.


of spatial abilities,


of consistent


The next chapter


then


findings may


considers


, have


suggest a


whether the


variable


problem


outcomes.


with


tests are


valid


measures


an underlying ability.


















CHAPTER


EVALUATION


OF THE


EMPIRICAL


RESEARCH


In this


chapter the


validity


of the truism


regarding


differences


in spatial


perception


will


be evaluated


from


within


the paradig

chapter is


that engendered


to determine


the conclusion.


the tests of


spatial


purpose of


ability


this


are valid


and if

ability


the claims


that are made regarding the


on performance are


supported.


role


Specifically


of spatial

, the


literature on


spatial


perception


will


be examined for


evidence


concurrent criterion


validity,


predictive criterion


validity,


diagnostic


validity


,and


construct


validity.


Concurrent


Criterion


Validity


If an ability


measure


is a


useful


indicator


of academic


achievement


(or other performances)


measured at approximately


same


time,


then


the measure


said


to have concurrent


criterion


validity.


In a major review,


Arter and Jenkins


(1979)


assessed


studies


concerning the concurrent criterion


validity


of various


perceptual


tests.


For their criterion


variable,


Arter and Jenkins


measured academic


achievement.


They


found


that


"none


of these


visual


perceptual abilities


was


a valid indicator of


academic


sex












Arter and


Jenkins assert


that


the correlation


coefficient


should


a minimum


of +.35


to be interpreted


as an indication


criterion


validity.


While


spatial ability


test


scores do not


predict academic


performance


in general,


the scores


have


been


somewhat


useful


predicting mathematics


performance.


Burnett


, Lane,


Dratt


(1979)


find


that differences


in spatial ability


account


about


percent of


the variance


in quantitative achievement.


They


obtained correlations


+.55


+.57


spatial


tests


mathematics achievement.


Furthermore,


they


note that significant


sex differences


in quantitative ability


disappear when spatial


ability


statistically


controlled.


Including


sex as a predictor


variable increases


the explained


variance


less than


percent"


Burnett


et al.


conclude


that


"spatial ability


is an essential


basis


for mathematics aptitude"


1979


, p. 345)


that an individual


spatial ability


score


is an


even


better


indicator of

Aiken (


between


mathematics achievement


1971)


than is


sex.


also reports a significant correlation


a spatial relations test and


Quantitative.


discussed


interpretation


This


rter and Jenkins,

of the finding,


the California


correlation meets


but doubt is


since


+.52


Test of Mental


the standard


cast on


Aiken reports


higher


correlations


between quantitative


scores


I.Q.


Maturity:












curious


that


various


verbal


tests


also do


so and


a greater


degree.


Spatial


tests,


then,


are not


useful


indicators of


academic


success


in general.


They


are moderately useful,


however,


for the


assessment of


mathematics achievement,


but are


less


useful


this


purpose


than are


tests of


general intelligence


or verbal


achievement.


Predictive


Criterion


Validity


based


on the results


a test of


spatial ability


accurate


predictions


of a subject's


later performance can


be made,


then


the test


said


to have


predictive


criterion ability.


Typically,


the criterion measure


that


used is


a measure


academic achievement.


Bock and Kolakowski


(1973)


tested


the predictive criterion


validity


of spatial ability measures


on subsequent academic


performance.


They


obtained a


correlation


coefficient


of +.29


between spatial ability


and general


school


success.


When


they


assessed


the relationship


between spatial


ability


grades


specific


classes,


however,


they


obtained


correlations


of +.57


between spatial ability


and geometry


grades,


+.42


for spatial


ability


and drafting


grade,


for spatial ability


and shop


mechanics,


spatial ability


watch repair.


McGee


evaluated


the relationship


between scores


on a


+.47












proficiency


in technical drawing


correlations


of +.42


+.62


for the


boys


' overall shop


class grade and


their


spatial


score.


For boys,


spatial ability tests are moderately useful


for the


prediction


of grades


in some


technical


programs


to 43


percent


of the variance

Several st


is explained


udies evaluate


spatial


test scores).


the relationship


between mathematics


performance


and spatial ability.


Fennema


(1980)


reviewed


empirical evidence

achievement based


that measures the

on spatial ability


predictability


scores.


of mathematics


Fennema found


several studies


that show a significant relationship


between


two variables.


She also


found,


however


an equal


number


studies


ability


which show no significant


and mathematics


relationship


achievement.


between


conclusion is


spatial


that


relationship


"not clear"


that spatial ability


tests


predictively


invalid


In a multiple regression analysis,


Sherman


1980


attempts


determine the


variables most responsible for students


' mathematics


performance.


Sherman


used


both knowledge of


mathematics concepts


and mathematical


problem solving


as her criterion


variables.


tests


of eighth- and


eleventh-grade students


Sherman found


that


the best


predictor


of knowledge


of mathematics


concepts


in grade


eleven


is the students'


knowledge


of mathematical


concepts


grade


eight


(r=+.42).


predictor variable


with


the next












-Only


the fourth


predictor variable


is the student's


score


or the


spatial


significant


visualization


for males


test

when


(r=+.12).


the data


This


are


variable


analyzed


is not

gender.


Sherman


(1980)


obtained


similar results


when mathematical


problem solving was


performance

performance


scores


the criterion


in grade eight

in grade eleven


were also significant


variab


was the most

(r=+.32).

t predictors


le. Again

significant


Spatial


the student's


predictor


visualization


of mathematical


problem


solving


(r=+.20).


Other predictor variables


included knowledge


mathematical


concepts


(r=+.19)


number of


years


of college


preparatory mathematics


classes


(r=+.17),


and,


for girls only,


belief


that mathematics


is within the male domain


was a


significant


predictor


(r=+.14).


Girls


view mathematics


as a


stereotypically


masculine activity


tend


score


lower on


mathematical


problem solving tests.


Based


on the


findings


presented here,


predictive


validity


of spatial ability


tests


for mathematics


performance


weak.


Other variables

achievement, an


are more


useful for predicting mathematics


d spatial scores account for only


a small amount


variance


in mathematics achievement


(.04


percent).


Scores


spatial


general.


tests are not


Spatial


useful indicators


tests are moderately useful,


of academic achievement


however,


predicting performan


in shop and


other technical


courses.


This


d












Kolakowski


and :Ialina


(1974)


tested


the predictability


of boys'


throwing


accuracy


based


on Thurstone'


Primary


Mental


Abilities


soatial


subtest.


Tney


found


that


percent


of the variance


throwing


accuracy


can


be accounted for


spatial


scores.


In this


study


, boys


threw


balls at


a target.


Their


aim


was assessed


vertical and horizontal accuracy.


nThere


was no


relationship


between


horizontal accuracy


spatial


score.


vertical


accuracy


there


was a weak


relationship


between


spatial


score


aimL (correlation


coefficient r=+.37).


Apparently


there


are more


important


variables


than


spatial


ability


that


are uivolved


throwing


accuracy.


One such


variable


might


be the amount


throwing practice


that


boys


nave.


Spatial ability


also thought


to affect


vocational


performance.


a major review


of the prilic


tive


criterion


validity


of spatial ability


tests,


Ghiselli


1973


compared


scores


on three


spatial


tests


with subsequent


on-the-job


performance


measured


supervisor's


the related research


that


ratings


of employees.


was published


between


Ghiselli


1920


roviewid


1971.


found


that


spatial ability


is not a significant


predictor


vocational


performance


in most areas.


The correlations


between


spatial


oriented,


scores


sales,


performance


managerial,


in several


protective


occupations


services,


service


vehicle


operators)


are below +.39


(up to


percent


of the


variance


4.,


I












clerical


large


occupations


range


(range of


of correlation


correlations


between spatial


+.04

test


to +.63).


scores


supervisors


ratings


of workers may


be due


to the


use of different


spatial


tests


of different


reliabilities and


to the


variability


supervisor'


ratings.


Ghiselli's


review


shows


that


spatial scores


are nost


useful


for predicting performance


in trades and


crafts and in


industrial


work.


Workers


in these


occupations


are called


to perform


manner similar


to the task requirements


of the spatial


tasts


, such


as in


the knowledge


of gear movements.


The resulting


correlations


between spatial


test score and supervisor's


rating


in industry


trades may


reflect


the spatial


tests


origin as


tests of


mechanical

Diagnostic


performance.

Validity


A test


with diagnostic


validity


should discriminate


between


groups


who are


known


to differ


on the


variable


that


test


purportedly measures.


If the Rod and


Frame


Test


(RFT),


example,


measures


an ability


that affects an individual


s use of


vestibular cues,


then those


individuals who demonstrate refined


postural


functioning should excel


on the test.


The diagnostic


validity


of spatial


tests


been assessed


with athletes,


academic major


, and


with handedness groups.


Athletics.


In a


test


of the relatedness


between


spatial












the subjects


in this


experiment.


The RFT did not


serve


well


distinguishing


between groups


known


to differ


postural


competence.


"Similarly,


Graydon


1980


found


that


the Differential


Aptitude


Test:


Spatial Relations


(DAT)


did not distinguish


between known groups of


athletes.


Graydon's sub


jects


were


women


of three


levels of


athletic ability.


Group


one consisted


of 13


internationally


players


ranked squash


of low ability


players.


13 nonplayers


Group two was


were assigned


squash


to group


three.


A test of


squash


players


is an interesting measure


spatial


performance,


since squash


is a fast-moving game


which


requires


quick and accurate


perception.


Graydon found


significant difference


in DAT


score among the


groups.


spatial


ability


test


is not important


for use


in diagnosing


predicting)


the skill


of squash


playing.


Athletic


level


was not


predicted


by the


EFT in a


1975


Barrell and


Trippe.


These


researchers compared


scores


of professional level athletes,


midiur level athletes,


nonathletes


in several different sports.


There


was no


significant


difference


in RFT


score


athletic


level.


Apparently,


spatial


ability


as measured


by this


popular test


poorly


distinguishes


athletic


excellence.


There are,


however,


in the Barrell and


Tripoe


study


study













control group.


Cricket


ballet dancers,


and soccer


players are not


significantly


different from


each


other


in terms


of RFT


score,


with athletes from


these three activities


significantly


less


FI than


the track and field group or the


controls.


Tennis


players are


significantly


lowest


in FI


(that is,


most field dependent).


Interpreted


consistently


with


the premises


of the RFT,


these findings


suggest


that


tennis


players


are


most


likely to rely


on visual


cues


in their perception


of spatial


representations.


Track and field athletes are most


likely


to rely


on bodily


position


contrast


to vision)


for their


cues


interpreting the


perceptual field.


Ballet dancers


(together with


the cricket and soccer players)


are more dependent on


postural


cues


than


tennis


players


less dependent on


postural


cues


than


track and


field athletes.


It would appear,


on the surface,


that


ballet requires a more


fine grained


postural


skill


than


track and


field.


It is not


clear


how the results of


Barrell and


Trippe


research


can


be explained in


terms


a perceptual ability.


Both


track and field and


tennis


players


use postural


cues.


Both also


use visual


cues


such as


jumping over


a hurdle or


judging the


directionality


a ball.


Note also


that


if it is


supposed


that


most


track


events do not require


the degree


of visual


perceptual


competence required


in tennis


, certainly


ballet


would not


either,


which


bees


the question as


to why


ballet dancers are not more F


players,












When


a gymnast spins


through


the air


it is essential


that she or


he have a good idea of


where


the ground is


at crucial moments.


Johnson


1983)


matched a group of


skilled gymnasts


with a control


group on


the basis


of IQ score,


age,


ethnic


group,


socioeconomic


status,


parental and sex-role


identification,


achievement


motivation,


years of


training in


other


sDorts.


Johnson


used


the Shepard-Metzler Mental Rotations


test.


The results


indicate


that


there


were no significant difference


in spatial


visualization


between


the skilled gymnasts and


the control group.


Thus


diagnostic


validity


of the spatial


visualization


test is


again


called into question.


Based


on these


studies


of athletic


performance,


tests


of spatial ability


do not


have diagnostic


validity.


The results


of these studies render problematic


claim


that


a pre-existing


spatial ability


an underlying


determinant of


subsequent athletic


prowess.


The development


athletic


skill must


be dependent


on variables


other


than spatial


ability.


Possible determinants are


experience,


practice,


motivation,


and musculature.


Academic


performance.


Spatial ability


has been linked


certain academic majors.


Johnson,


Flinn,


Tyer


administered


the Embedded


Figures


Test


(ErT)


to groups


drafting,


mathematics,


and liberal arts majors.


They


found


that


the liberal arts majors have significantly


lower scores


than












of the liberal arts


females.


The finding that mathematics and


drafting majors


score


higher


on spatial


tests


consistent


with


the idea


that


competence.


two types


course,


of performance draw upon


whether the decision


a common


to major in


these


fields results


from


or preceedes


proficiency


remains


to be shown.


With respect


to academic major,


spatial


tests are


somewhat


useful


as diagnostic tools.


The tests do distinguish


liberal arts majors


from mathematics and drafting majors,


but fail


to distinguish


between


the mathematics and drafting majors.


However,


it is


probable that


there are other measures


that


would


predict college major


better than


spatial


tests.


One example


a test


which


would


, no doubt,


as useful in diagnosing


liberal arts majors from mathematics and drafting majors

mathematics achievement test.


Handedness.


The spatial


tests have


had many


claims made for


Among these


is the notion


that


spatial


ability


function of hemispheric b

controversy regarding the


hemispheric dominance


rain dominance.

relationship t


, handedness,


There


between


perceptual


is considerable

cerebral


functioning


e.g.


Buffery,


1971


Buffery


& Gray


, 1972


DeLacoste-Utamsing


Holloway


, 1982


Levy


& Reid,


1978;


Wolff


& Hurwitz,


1976).


order to see


visuo-spatial


tasks are


differentially


difficult


for individuals


who are


in different handedness groups,


them.













Summary .


In the studies


reported


in the preceding


sections,


several different measures


of spatial ability


are used.


Note


that


in no


case


was level


of athletic


performance


predicted


spatial


test.


diagnostic


Handedness also


validity


of spatial


was not


tests


predicted.


has not


To date


, the


been established


with


tasks


that on


their face


would


exploit spatial


skills.


Among


known groups

spatial test


have distinguished


S are,


in general,


themselves


not sensitive


in functioning,


to differences


level


of functioning.


If the sDatial


tests


have


practical


value,


then


that


value


should


emerge in


the capacity


of diagnostic


validity.


case


for diagnostic


validity


of soatial


tests


been supported.


Convergent


Validity


as laccoby


Jacklin


(1974)


claim,


there are


many


tests


which measure


each


type


of spatial


perception,


then


those


tests


should show


high


correlations


with


each other.


That


if the


measures of


spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability


do indeed


measure


specific


spatial ability that limits or


enhances


performance,


then


an individual


scores


well


on one test


would


be expected


score


well


on alternative


measures


of the same ability


given at


about


same


time.


For example,


consider the


relatedness


of three of


measures


of spatial


(visual-analytic)


ability:


The Rod and Frame












(1972)


identified


measures


of correlation


between


the RFT and


the EFT.


percent


mean


shared


correlation


variance


for the two tests


was +.44 or about


Similar results are


reported


Witecki


(1978).


WIhen Arbuthnot considered


the Group


Embedded


Figures


T9st


(GEFT)


the RFT,


the mean


correlation


+.23


(about


percent


shared


variance)


with


the range of


seven


correlations


between


+.03


+.46.


Of these


seven measures,


only


three


reach significance.


Arbuthnot's conclusion is


strong:


"The


indiscriminate


use of


test


for another


is unwarranted and


conceptually


dangerous"


1972,


P. 479).


In some


computed


Thornton


studies,


for men and


(1968)


correlations bet

women separately.


report a moderately


,ween RFT a

Barrett,


high range


nd EFT

Cabe,


of correlation


and EFT from


+.43


+.76


in males.


This replicates


correlation


that


Witkin


(1949)


reports.


Bergnan and Engelbrektson


(1973),


contrast,


report


correlations


between


+.20


+.40


males and


coalude that


"RFT and


EFT had quite different


tterns


and shared


only


to 16


percent


common


variance"


range


of correlations


of EFT and RFT


women


is lower.


Barrett et al.


1968


report correlations


between


+.03


+.26.


This


corresponds


to the


earlier results


of Witkin


(194


obtains a correlation


of +.21


between RFT


EFT in


women.













scores


women,


Sherman


(1974)


reports


a moderately


high


negative


correlation of


-.60


for women in


sample.


Based


the available


evidence,


there


no reason


to conclude


that


measure


same


construct


, particularly


women.


The tests


share


less


than


percent of


the variance


women


performance.


When


comparing


the KBD


RFT,


Arbuthnot


1972


finds


that


the mean correlation


In three studies


or about


of the relationship,


percent


Arbuthnot


shared


found


variance.


th-at


correlation


of RFT


and KBD was


significant


only


once


that


range


of the observed correlations


was


from


+.22


Arbuthnot concludes


that


"the


KBD does


not fare


well


as an


equivalent measure of RFT"


1972,


When


measures


of RFT


, EFT,


and KBD


are taken


together,


Arbuthnot suggests


that


these


tests


"dlo,


in general,


share


sone


variance


but lack


equivalent form


validity,


contrary


to the


apparent assumptions


of numerous researchers.


These


tests


lack


convergent


validity,


[and]


the over-all indication


is that


what


one test measures


is not measured


to a


great


extent


other tests"


(1972,


486).


Similar


data


is obtained from


correlations


of tests


nonanalytic


spatial


ability.


When results


front four


tests


nonanalytic ability


were


correlated,


Loehlin,


Sharan


Jacoby


to +.6


, and


+.36,












correlations,


these


tests


are


probably


not measuring the


sans


construct.


Vandenberg


and Kuse


report


the results


of three


studies


their


1978


research.


Each


study


determined


correlations anong


eleven


different nonanalytic


spatial


tests.


In the first study


(N=172)


range


of correlations


was


ron


-.04


to +.60.


However


, only


one correlation out


of 55


greater


+.47.


ma jority


of correlations


of 5


are below


+.30.


correlation of


+.60


is obtained


for two


types of'


paper folding


tests.


In the second


part


of this


study


Vandenberg and Kuse


1978


report


the results


of 21


correlations


of nonanalytic


spatial


tests.


The range


of correlations


with


this


was from


+.31


to +.68.


third


part


of the study


Vandenberg and Kuse


used


large number


of subjects


(C=3435).


In 10 correlations


with


these


subjects,


the range


of correlation


was from


+.32


to +.


As with


the analytic measures


of spatial ability,


the nonanalytic tests


show some shared


variance


to 3


percent)


which


only


poartially


explains subject


variability.


Furtshr,


correlations


between


tests


from


the two different


types


of spatial


ability


are


as high as


those


from


within


one type


of ability.


For example,


Signorella and Jamison


1973


tuhnsl


, the


(N=456),












reported


and Long


(1979)


who used


multiple


regression


analysis


and determined


that


the Spatial Relations


Test


(visual-nonanalytic)


(visual-analytic)


score.


best


predictor


Some measures of


an EFT


nonanalytic ability


then


, are as highly


correlated


with


EFT as the


EFT is correlated


with alternate measures


of the same ability.


The findings


presented in


this


section indicate


first,


that


the demarcation


of spatial ability


as dichotonous


warranted.


Second


, the amount of


variance shared


by the


RFT,


EFT,


and KBD


is no greater than


amount of variance


that


these


measures


share


with measures


of nonanalytic ability.


tests


each


type


of spatial ability


identified


Haccoby


Jacklin


lack


convergent


validity.


Thus,


these


tests


should not


be used


alternate measures


of the


same


construct.


Research


that


combines


results


from


these tests


conceptually risky.


Conclusion


The data concerning spatial ability


that


been


presented


this chapter suggests


that


tests are


insensitive


differences among known groups


that differ in functioning.


They


are not


useful indicators of


academic


performance.


There are no


empirical grounds for Maccoby


and Jacklin's dichotomy


specifies different spatial abilities.


Based


that


on the available


evidence


spatial ability


tests


are not a good


basis


is not


Prasris












Tests


of spatial ability reflect


the theoretical


nodel


which


thoy


are based.


Since


the tests


have


been found


to be


lacking,


this


calls


into question


their theoretical


justification.


The theory


of trait


psychology


has engendered


tests


which


have


little


practical


utility.


analysis of


construct,


to this


point,


has consisted


of assessing


empirical studies


in terms


what


the underlying


theory


would


predict.


In the next


chapters


the analysis


will


be extended


vertically


consideration


of the theory


itself.


















CHAPTER


THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH


TO PERCEPTION


Iaccoby


Jacklin


1974


refer the


reader to the theories


and research of Thurstone


(1944)


Witkin


(Witkin,


Dyk,


Faterson,


Goodenough,


& Karp,


1962)


for the rationale underlying measures


spatial ability.


They


credit


Thurstone


[all references


Thurstone are to


1944


book,


unless


otherwise noted]


with


recognition


of spatial ability


as a distinct factor.


Thurstone


used


the method of


factor analysis


to statistically


identify the


components of


general intellectual ability.


Maccoby


and Jacklin


credit


Witkin


with discovering a


"cognitive style variable


which is


thought


to measure analytic ability"


(Maccoby


& Jacklin,


1974,


91).


In addition,


they note


that


Witkin'


tests,


the Rod and Frame


Test


(RFT)


Embedded Figures


Test


(EFT)


also


"load heavily


on a spatial


factor when


[they are]


included in


a battery with


other visual-spatial


tests"


Through


their reference to


Thurstone and


Witkin,


Ifaccoby


Jacklin inherit an acceptance of


the faculty view


of perception.


Faculty


(or trait)


composed of


psychology


a number of


is the doctrine that


powers or agencies,


i.e.,


the mind is

the ability to












common cause"


(English


& English,


1958,


p. 201).


This


point of


view reflects the


psychometric effort aimed at measuring perception


as an ability.


Indeed,


Iaccoby


and Jacklin have acknowledged


that


writing about sex differences forces them


to be trait


psychologists


(Almquist,


1977).


The purpose


of the discussion


that follows


is to


make


explicit


the assumptions of Thurstone and


Witkin


, and,


thus,


4Maccoby


and Jacklin and


their


beliefs about gender and spatial


perception.

Thurstone's Model


Assumptions about


perception.


One of Thurstone's assumptions


that


perception reflects a central


ocular processes.

analytic work in


In Thurstone's word


perception is


process

s, "the


to discover if


that is separate from

purpose of factor

there are functional


unities among the many


perceptual


effects


that are


central rather


than ocular"


(1944,


p. iii).


By this,


Thurstone implies


that


there


are two separate stages of


the perceptual


perception entails an adumbrative


process.


process and


that


According to this


view,


the first stage


of perception is


the sensory


stage wherein


system receives input in the form of


ambient energy.


In the case


of vision,


the sensory stage involves the stimulation of the retina


by reflected light


which creates a


two-dimensional image on


retina.


The retinal image


is assumed


to be an impoverished


representation of


its source


in the


external


world.


Consequently,











It is


in the brain


(or,


in mentalistic


theories,


the mind)


that


the second stage


of perception occurs.


brain


"looks at"


the two dimensional retinal image,


and from


that stimulus it


constructs a


view


of reality.


Perception,


then,


the result of


the brain's


embellishment


of impoverished


ocular


(retinal)


stimuli


and is,


therefore,


indirect.


brain


perceives


the retinal


image,


while


the retina senses the


world.


The notion


that information for perception is impoverished is


crucial


to the dominant


theoretical


perspective.


It is precisely


because of


inadequate


information available


to the organism


that it is required to cons

As was mentioned in chapter


truct an interpretation


there is an alternate


of the world.

ive to this


point of view


(Gibson,


1979


Turvey


, Shaw,


Reed,


& Mace,


1981


which


will


be discussed in


the next chapter.


A second assumption follows


from


Thurstone's


contructivist


view.


assumes


that


there are stable and generalizable


individual differences in how


sensory


input


is processed and


that


these differences


play


a key role


in determining what


is perceived


in a


particular situation.


purpose of Thurstone'


1944


research is


to assess


personality


differences.


Since


Thurstone


believes that individual differences in


perception are reflections


of traits or


faculties that comprise


personality,


larger aim


to develop


"a system of


classifying personality"












Measurement


of perception.


Thurstone used


University


Chicago


undergraduates and several


"special groups"


as his


subjects


(1944,


p. 7).


Thurstone administered


different


perceptual


tests,


many


of which


were developed as a


"matter of


personal


opinion


or guess"


about


the faculties


that govern


perception.


His aim


the development of


a perceptual


test


battery,


was to


"set


up the


performances


so as to differentiate


between factors


even though some of the


factors may not


be of


immediate


practical


importance"


was important


generate individual


differences


test


performance since


concern


was


performance.


to identify the factors that account


Thurstone used several methods to


for variability


produce differences


among subjects.


tests


One technique,


the use of


found


optical illusions.


on several of Thurstone'


Thurstone admits


that


performance on


these


tests


of no adaptive


or social


significance and


that his approach is


"a gamble.


" However,


illusory


materials have


the advantage of


generating the necessary


variability.


For example,


consider


Figure


When subjects are asked


which


inner circle,


or b,


is the larger,


their responses do not differ;


all agree that circle a is


larger.


However,


if the same


instruction is applied


to the


Titchener Circle


Illusion


(Thurstone,


1944,


59-6


large individual differences are obtained


(see










Figure


A NONILLUSORY


CIRCLE


TEST


Which inner


circle


the larger?


Figure


TITCHEHER


CIRCLE ILLUSION TEST


oQ0o
Oob




b


Which inner circle


is the larger?











Table


THE OUTCOME OF THE TITCHENER


CIRCLE


ILLUSION TEST


errors


frequency


12

13

14

15

16

17

total


Source:
Chicago:


L. L. Thurstone


University


(1944).


of Chicago


A Factorial Study


of Perception.


Press,












A second


which


Thurstone generates


individual


differences


by measuring reaction


no differences in accuracy


individual differences


of response


in speed


time.

e will,


of response.


Some tests

however,

Many of


that show

yield


Thurstone


tests


use time as


unit of


analysis.


Differences


that result


may not reflect


the manner in


which information is


processed


may,


instead,


reflect


the subjects'


ease of


processing


or reaction


time.


A third strategy for


generating individual differences


is the


use of


projective techniques.


The Rorschach


tests are part of


Thurstone' s


perceptual


battery.


Originally


a psychoanalytic


technique designed


series of


to assess


ambiguous stimuli


personality

(inkblots) t


the Rorschach is a


hat are given an


interpretation


type.


by the


subject.


Thurstone considers


The test


two scores


fro


is of

m the


the free

Rorschach


response

: Total


Number of Responses,


and Perceptual


Organization.


The total


number of


responses


purportedly


"is indicative of


subject's


fluency


producing ideas"


of the subject's motivation


continue with


the interpretation of


the test cards


(Thurstone,


1944,


pp. 87-88).


Perceptual


organization refers


to the


extent


which


the subject interprets


the inkblot as a unified


whole.


use of


the Rorschach guarantees


individual differences


response.












which


Thurstone


takes as


evidence to support


the assumption


that


personality mediates


perception.


After measuring


"perception"


determining that


attempts


there are,


to determine


indeed,


the number of


large differences,

different central


Thurstone

processes


(factors)


responsible for perceptual interpretation.


Thurstone


uses


factor analysis


to identify the


faculties


involved


perceptual


processing.


Thurstone's

principal factors


with each other;


factor analysis of the

in perception. These


tests


factors


highest correlation of


yielded


are not correlated


two is


+.20


123),


although


in many


instances individual


tests are


loaded


several factors.


For example,


KBD test loads on Factor


Closure


Against Distraction,


Factor


Manipulation


of Several


Configurations Simultaneously


or in Succession,


and a residual


factor


(factor


which


Thurstone does not


label


or interpret


122).


The Hidden Figures


Test,


a predecessor


of EFT


, loads on


Factor C,


Reaction


Time,


with the


KBD,


on Factor


loading of Hidden Pictures on Factor


occurs despite Thurstone's


acknowledgement


that


"this does not seem


to involve the


simultaneous manipulations of two configurations"


110).


effect,


Thurstone acknowledges a


validity


problem


with


the test.


That


KBD and Hidden Pictures


tests load


on a common


factor


is apparently the


basis for Maccoby


and Jacklin' s


(1974)












different factors.


as IMaccoby


and Jacklin claim,


they


basing their work


on Thurstone's research,


then


they


should


discuss


12 different spatial abilities,


continued dispute over the number of


two.


spatial


There


factors


(Bergman


Engelbrektson,


1973;


Mandler


& Stein,


1977;


McGee,


1979;


Michael,


Guilford,


Fruchter,


& Zimmerman,


1957


Witkin,


Dyk,


Faterson,


Goodenough,


& Karp,


62),


and,


in an extensive review article,


McGee concludes


that


"after 70


years of


psychometric research,


there is still


vast disagreement about


just


best


to classify


standard


tests of


spatial abilities"


(1979,


p. 893).


In conclusion,

personality than pe


Thurstone


irception.


is more concerned


with measuring


Thurstone uses techniques


with no


practical significance


in order to generate differences among


subjects.


He assumes


that


perception occurs in stages


with


ultimate process occurring when


reality


the mind constructs a


that represents an embellishment of


view


an individual


experience.


This mental


embellishment is


thought


to cause


individual differences in


perception


which has led,


as well


, to an


assumption of


sex differences.


Maccoby


and Jacklin


(1974)


cite


Thurstone


(1944)


as the justification for measuring specific


spatial abilities.


However,


they


inappropriately


dichotomize


ability


despite Thurstone'


research.


Witkin's


Model


are












Thurstone


is cited


Maccoby


and Jacklin


when


they defer to other


theorists in

Witkin is wel

identified as


their discussion

1 known for his


"one of


of the nature


of spatial ability.


work on cognitive style,


the most researched


which is


perceptual-cognitive


variables


of the past


years"


(Fine and Danforth,


1975,


p. 683).


Assumptions about


perception.


An important assumption


implicit in


Witkin's approach is


one shared


with


Thurstone.


Witkin agrees


that


perception is


cognitively mediated


believes


that


the organism


interprets


world


analyzing and structuring


information


obtained from


retinal image


53).


Within asserts


that


highly


structured


mediation is advantageous


since it is more


specialized.


This


specialization


of mediation is referred


to as cognitive


differentiation


Witkin.


A second assumption of Witkin'


that


perception reflects


characteristic mode


style.


of processing information


Cognitive style is


called


pervasive and influences


"cognitive

behavior and


intelligence.


In Witkin's


words,


"style of


perception is


linked


to a


broad and


varied array


of personal characteristics


involving


a great many


areas


of psychological functioning"


Cognitive


style


is made up of


an "intrinsically


coherent


pattern


of traits"


because


pattern is


stable


it suggests a


continuity


in psychological


functioning.












unsuited


to certain


types of


educational


course


work.


Suitability


is determined,


in part,


gender,


since


sex


differences


intellectual


functioning parallel


sex


differences


in perception


220).


Within delineates


two cognitive


styles,


field dependence


(FD)


and field


independence


(FI),


they


are treated as dichotomous


despite the


continuous distribution


scores


on tests


cognitive style


An FD


person is


influenced


context


making perceptual

information from


judgments.

context, a


An FI person is able


process called


to extract


"disembedding.


The two


perceptual styles


are not merely


different.


A third


assumption of Witkin'


that one


style is


"valued over"


other


Field


independent


(differentiated)


people


have


richer cognitive experience since


their cognitive


system is more


complex


This


conception


of the faculty


leads


to the


prediction


that


FI people


are more


intelligent and analytical


than


FD people


220)


a prediction


that


Witkin


s work


supports


The individual


is FD (less differentiated)


"fused


with


the field"


This individual


less likely


to segregate


the self


from


the environment,


has less


internal determination


functioning,


and is more reliant


upon


external nurturance and


support


10).


The FD individual also


has less


impulse


control,













differentiated


(FI)


person also able


to perform


(lower)


global level


restricted


of functioning.


The FD person,


cognitive structure and


however,


cannot solve


problems


analytically


54).


Womsn are more


likely to


be FD and are,


therefore,


relatively


cognitively restricted.


According to


Witkin


et al.


"the


sex differences


that have


been


observed


are clear-cut


pervasive"


(1962,


p. 221)


but are small


compared


range


of differences


within


each


sex.


Though smanall,


sex difference


supported


"extensive evidence"


(p.221).


Thus,


women and


children are


viewed


Witkin as


cognitively


restricted


when


compared


with adult men.


A fourth assumption


that


Witkin makes


concerning perception


that


there


an innate


source


of the ability to perceive


18).


Witkin


believes


that


perception is linked


to body


concept.


Field dependent


individuals


are


said


to have


a poorly


developed


body


concept (p.


ability


according to


sex


difference


Witkin,


noted for


part


this analytic


to constitutional


characteristics


Witkin speculates


that


"the fact


that


sex organs of


women are


'hidden'


may make


it more difficult


for them


to develop a clear


conception of


body.


This,


turn,


affect


the further development of'


articulation


experience"


220).


This aspect of Witkin's


theory


reminiscent


of Freud


s anatomy-is-destin


doctrine.


If it is


*-.*


Y












ability


, such


as the female liberal


arts6


majors


who outperform


male liberal


arts


majors


(Johnson,


Flinn,


& Tyer,


1979)


To date,


there


no evidence to support


Within's claim regarding


constitutional


characteristics and spatial ability.


A fifth assumption


mnay play

suggests


a role in


of Witkin'


the development of


that in our culture


women are


is that cultural determinants


Witkin


eO more


cognitive style.

encouraged to b


dependent


than men.


The independent activities of


men


are


more


conducive


to self


reliance and achievement


which in


turn may


cause


to be more


"analytical"


221)


and less dependent


upon


global


context.


differentiation


Further,


(cognitive


our society

complexity)


attaches


in males


positive


value


but discourages


differentiation in females.


Our society,


according to


Witkin,


considers limited differentiation in females


a Positive


characteristic.


Thus,


women are not motivated


to achieve


cognitive complexity.


There


evidence to support


this


claim.


Sherman's research,


for example,


finds


that


females


perception of


a task


as within


on the task


the masculine domain influences


80).


If there are cultural


their


(learned)


performance


determinants


of perceptual


performance,


then


that


performance reflects


achievement,

ecological i


not ability.


perspective .


This ;

However,


position

since


central


Witkin names


to the

both


constitutional and social determinants


of cognitive


style,


men












Adjustment


Test.


Each


of these


tests


is said


to measure cognitive


style


or analytic


perceptual ability.


In -he next section,


development


of Witkin's


Frame


Test


(RFT)


will


be traced.


Because


of the


voluminous nature of


literature concerning the


various measures


developed


Witkin,


this analysis


will


restricted


to the RFT.


RFT was


selected


because


of its


enormous acceptance


as a measure


of perceptual ability


evidenced


by the abundant research


that has


been


published


using


BFT.


Measurement


of Perception.


Witkin's research


with


began in


1948


when,


with Solomon Asch,


he published


a series


four perceptual


experiments


(Asch


& Witkin,


1948a


Asch


& Witkin


1948b;


Vitkin


& Aach,


1948a


Within


& Asch,


1948b).


In the first


of their series


of articles,


Witkin and Asch


explain


the ongoing


controversy regarding perception of


"upright.


One view holds


that


visual


cues are


predominant in assessing verticality


or "the


upright.


The alternative hypothesis


that


postural


cues


primary


in the


perception


of the upright.


Witkin and Asch


design


their experiments


to separate the


senses


in order to


test


these


hypotheses.


Asch and


Witkin


write,


their first


paper in


the series,


that


their rationale


for pursuing this


investigation at


great


length


that


"Perception of


the upright


an important function


are












upright


an extremely


broad function,


involving


the interaction


cooperation


of visual,


experiences"


investigation


kinesthetic,


Since


of the "role


their primary


of field factors


and labyrinthine


is an


perception"


326)


, they


attempt


to separate


the characteristic


cues


of the


field in order


to determine


the relative


importance


of postural


visual


cues


in "spatial orientation.


In their


first


experiment,


Asch and


Witkin


(1948a)


involved


subjects,


college


students,


a great


mirror trick.


experimental


task was


to adjust a luminous rod


(illuminated at


threshold level)


to the


"absolute


vertical.


The subjects


were


blindfolded


for three minutes and


were


then led,


individually,


a cardboard


viewing tube


(nine


inches


in diameter and


two feet


long )


which


was placed


over the


subject'


face.


tube


provides


a fixed


vantage


point,


thus


controlling for the subject's


movement.


Subjects


viewed


, through


this


tube


, a scene


a roon


projected


on a mirror that


tilted


backward


30 degrees.


After the subject


viewed


the scene and described it


to the


experimenters,


the subject


was asked


to determine


the verticality


of the rotating rod


saying


"now"


when


the rod is


"perfectly


upright,


that is,


when it


parallel


to [your]


body"


There are


"large


individual differences"


in performance on


this


task,


but subj


ects


tend


to perceive the


vertical


as "much nearer












visual


framework


was "predominant"


(1948a,


P. 335)


over postural


factors


in the perception


of the upright.


Some


subjects


became


confused


by this


experiment and


"their


errors


increased


when


they


attempted deliberately to refer to their


bodies"


(1948a,


P. 3


The mirror trick of


first experiment


was abandoned in


second


tilted"


experiment


(Asch


in favor


& Witkin,


of using


1948b,


"a room


455).


that


was actually


In experiment


two,


subjects


movable rod


were


contained


to "view

within i


a tilted

t to the


room and


true


to adjust


vertical and


horizontal"


455).


There


are


three conditions


of experiment


two.


In all


conditions


the subj


ects


viewed a room


"tilted


to the


left at an angle


of 22 degrees"


455).


The room measured four


by four


six (feet),


consisted of


unpainted


plywood,


and had no


ceiling


or front.


In the


room was a


table,


a chair,


a shelf


with


book,


and,


"directly


above


pivot


point of


the rod,


was a copy


of the


'Boring wife-mother-in-law'


reversible


figure"


(Asch


Witkin,


1948b,


p. 455).


The rod


was "horizontal,


one inch


wide


inches


long"


455).


In the first


part of


second


experiment


, the subjects


were


upright.


In the second and


third


parts,


subjects


were


seated


in a tilted


chair.


In some conditions


the tube


was used for


viewing


the room.


In all


cases


the subject


was given four minutes


to view the


tilted scene.


"This


period


of preliminary


adaptation












As in


the first


differences in


experiment,


judgment


there


the second


are large


experiment.


individual


Witkin an.d Asch


found


that


there are larger errors


when subjects


are


seated


chair that


is tilted in


the opposite direction from


tilt


the room.


Some subjects


"became


very


confused


, and reported


scene


to be tilted in a direction


opposite


to its


objective


tilt"


(Asch


& Witkin,


1948b,


462).


The correspondence


between


body


tilt and room


tilt is an


important


variable.


As Asch and


Within


observe,


When


aligned
though


cannot


body is
with it,


felt
some


scene may


possibly


be so.


to be tilted, a
people are able


appear


When


scene


to deduce


perfectly upright,


body


that,


and room are tilted


to opposite sides,


however,


an analysis


of this kind


is much more difficult.


To choose among these


alternatives,


it is necessary


to compute how much


the angle
the body
the room.


between body
and how much,


(Asch


and room


& Witkin,


any, to
1948b,


is due


to the tilt


a possible
p. 462)


tilt


In the third


experiment,


having determined


that


direction


of tilt influences


judgement,


uitkin and


Asch


1948a


changed from


the displaced


visual


field


of the first


two experiments


"the


absence


a visual field"


for the


third experiment


(Witkin


Asch,


1948a,


The aim


of experiment


three


was "to


determine how the upright


established in


the absence


surrounding visual field"


(Witkin


& Aacn,


1948a,


Subjects


(N=23)


were


blindfolded,


were


a complyl


stely


rin rrCr.o w3nrn1f+ 'rn +.


'^\Tif -f^Q


1FSTIl


nem y++ I


rlaran mrfimnn


QT- n r


nm












were


standing


wi-th


their


heads


resting


on a plane


tiltesd


a 45


degree angle.


In condition


the subjects


' entire


bodies


were


tilted


the third


degrees, o

condition,


in alternate trials


the subjects


to the


were resting


left or right.

horizontally


degrees from


the vertical)


and in


the fourth


(control)


condition,


the subjects


stood


erect.


There


were


errors


in all


experimental


conditions;


however,


the greatest


errors


occur with


body


in the horizontal


position.


Also important for the


purposes


of this discussion


there


are


errors in


the control


condition.


"With


body


erect


vertical and horizontal


can


be established


very


accurately,


although no


visual field


is present"


(Witkin


& Asch,


1948a,


Witkin and Asch


conclude that


clear from


these results


that


when


the body


upright


postural


factors


fully


adequate for


judging the


vertical and horizontal"


(1948a,


606).


Thus,


returning


to the


original question,


Within and Asch


conclude


that


visual field


provides


a more


stable frame of


reference fo
[and that] b
immediately
subjects are


judging direction than does


y simply turning
eliminates the e


then able


body


on the light one
errors described.


to locate the


vertical and


horizontal


with


complete


accuracy,


whether the


body


tilted,


horizontal,


or even


upside down.


visual field


primacy
611-612)


when


present,


over postural determ


immediately assu
inants. (1940a,


lines
pp.


are












however.


The luminous rod.


was now surrounded


a luminous


frame.


Both


the rod and


the frame


were adjustable.


Subjects


were


blindfolded into


the laboratory.


Tney


were


instructed


tLnat


they


would


make


see a square


the rod


frame


vertical


within


or horizontal


a rod.


according


The object


to the


is to


instructions


from


the experimenter


at the start


of each


of the 43


trials.


There


were


subjects.


Each score represents


average


degree


of error for the 48


trials.


On some trials


the subject's


body


tilted


(28 degree


by means


a tilting chair.


tilted frame,


tilted


chair,


and a rotating rod


produces


a wide


range of


errors.


When


the body


is erect,


however,


the judgments


are "usually


accurate"


(witkin


& Asch


, 1948b,


p. 771).


Some


subjects


became disoriented in


exDeriment four.


Witkin


and Asch


(194


present


case


studies


of three subjects


(two


one woman)


who reported dizziness and discomfort.


One man


said


that he felt


"hung from


the ceiling"


771).


Indeed,


authors report


that


"the


instability


of the framework made for


confusion


of orientation in some


people,


a kind never


found


with


those room


or mirror


techniques"


778).


Thus


the Rod.


Frame Test


luminous

people,


was born.


frame situation


it seems


"To the extent


permits


better suited


that


greater


to the stu


performance


differentiation among

dy of individual


differences


than


the room


or mirror type of


situation.


A further


use


men











Several


important


characteristics of


to bear repeating.


these experiments are


First,


sufficiently


the subjects are required


remain stationary.


Second,


the rod.


(and frame)


are at


threshold


levels


of illumination.


Third,


two techniques are used


to insure


that


the stimulus


was viewed


without


benefit of


context


(the


cardboard


viewing tube and


total darkness).


Fourth,


experiments are designed


to separate


senses.


Fifth,


with


open


eyes,


benefit of


context,


with


the body


erect,


judgments are


accurate.


And,


finally,


purpose


of the experiment is


generate


individual differences.


theoretically neutral and,


indeed


These procedures are not

, their implications are


problematic.

Summary


Because Maccoby


Jacklin defer to Thurstone and


Witkin for


perceptual


theory,


Thurstone's and


Witkin's


theories


have


been


reviewed in


this


chapter.


This review vertically


extends


analysis of


sex differences


in spatial


perception into


theoretical realm.


It has


been shown


that Zaccoby


Jacklin


inappropriately


dichotomize spatial ability if


, as they


claim,


they use Thurstone's


work as


their rationale.


This could account


for the lack of


equivalent


form,


or convergent,


validity


suggested


in chapter


III.


There are not


two distinct


types


of "spatial


ability"


there


is no consensus in the


literature regarding the












themselves


to logical


explanation.


Witkin acknowledges


that he


purposely


selected methodologies to confuse


his subjects.


The theoretical assum-tions of both


Thurstone and.


Witkin


confirm


theories


Turvey' s


(see


of perception


chapter

(1977).


contentions about


Both


Thurstone


traditional


Witkin


consider


perception


to be mediated


personality


or cognitive


style).


Both also consider perception


to be


a discrete


process


which


be measured


using reaction


time,


timed


trials,


or separate senses.


Their


experimental


procedures reflect


these


beliefs.


Evaluation


of RFT Methodology


From


Within


Traditional


Paradigm


Lester


1978


addresses


"problems


of the RFT


as an


experimental method


those


per se and


employing it for research in


the methodological


both


errors made


perception and


personality"


1307).


The problems


identified


Lester include


control


of head.


position,


starting-position


effects,


appropriate


control readings


, and


effect


of instructions.


Lester


feels


that


because the head


position of


the subjects


is not


fixed


, it


an intervening variable,


since some subjects may


lift


their


heads


from


the head rest.


This


is especially


the case when


the subject


lying on


a horizontal


board in


the ninety


degree


body tilt


condition.


Since head


position is not controlled,


some subjects


be at an advantage due


to the


position of


their


heads.


Lester


says,


"if all subjects


could


be counted


upon


to tilt


their


heads


h. *


can


A m


A


A


I 1 1












With respect


to starting position effects,


Lester


(1968)


criticizes


Witkin and Asch


(1948b)


for their


"failure to


provide


adequate


variation in


the starting position


of the rod"


which


add a constant error to


the subjects


performance


08).


According to


affected


Lester,


the initial


Witkin and Asch


position


were aware


of the rod,


that


they


judgments


failed


control for this


variable.


Appropriate control readings other than starting-position

effects are an additional methodological concern regarding the


RFT.


Lester


believes that researchers


using the


RFT fail


utilize necessary


controls.


For example,


Lester found


that in


only


four of


0 articles that he reviewed are


control readings


used


1309).


One such


control


would


be to establish


subject


s perception


of the true


vertical


under normal


conditions.


Lester finds


that


"most subjects


show a consistent small


error in


one direction


when setting a rod alone


to vertical"


that


results may


be biased


by this


tendency


1968,


p. 1309).


Finally,


Lester has


criticized


RFT procedure


because of


its failure to specify


standard instructions for the subjects.


Lester reviews


the research


which shows


that


"by varying


instruction


RFT errors"


they

(196


could


, p.


produce clear differences


the size of


1310).


Also criticizing the


Long


1973


identifies


can


are


RFT,












trials


effects


the number of


subject errors.


When subjects are


able


to control


the amount


of time


spent looking


at the rod and


frame,


the amount of


time


between


trials,


there are


fewer


errors.


Long reports that


"both illumination level


and manner


rod rotation


(subject


versus


experimenter-paced)


had significant


effects


upon RFT performance"


(1973


Long states


that


because of


the methodological


problems


in the administration of


inappropriate


to generalize across


studies.


In the years following the publication


of 'Maccoby


Jacklin' s


text


(1974)


there was a frenzy


of research surrounding


their conclusions.


While using the


RFT for the


purpose of


identifying


"perceptual-cognitive"


variables


that


CfhEt


related


introversion and


extroversion,


Fine and Danforth


975)


noticed


additional


evaluate


recommended


subjectivity


problem


with RFT methodology.


the scoring method


Witkin.


in determining


of the RFT


Witkin and Asch


the direction


Fine and


question


(1948b)


of the


Danforth


the method


recognize


tilt of


frame;


nevertheless,


they


define


tilt direction according to their


personal


judgement.


Subsequently,


the direction


of the tilt of


the frame has


been standardized.


"All


studies


since


that


time


have used


only


experimenter defined


units"


(Fine


& Danforth,


1975,


p. 684).


The directions


with


the commercially produced RFT define












left could


be seen as


a tilt to


the right.


When


the subject


reports


that


the frame


is tilted


in a direction opposite from


experimenter defined response,


the subject


seen


to be in


error.


As Fine and


Danforth


write,


"there


is no


one set of


objective loci


of the


axes


a tilted square;


a square tilted


degrees


left


also,


in fact,


perceived


tilted


probably


degrees right.


depends


upon


Which


characteristics


way it

of the


will


perceiver,


on the context


which the square is


perceived or on chance"


975,


p. 685).


Since


Witkin has attributed high construct


validity


to his


absolute scoring method,


Fine and Danforth test subjects


to see


how they


judge the direction of


the tilt.


Of 56


subjects


"only


agreed

eight


with the experimenter in


trials.


their frame tilt


Eight subjects gave opposite


judgments


judgements from


on all

the


experimenter on all


eight


trials.


Most subjects agreed


with


experimenter

other trials"


on some trials and disagreed


Probing further,


with the experimenter on

Fine and Danforth find


that agreement on direction of


frame


tilt


is not due


to visual


acuity


or neuroticism.


"The only


consistent finding was


that


subjects


who tended


to be inaccurate


[different from the


experimenter's


tended


opinion]


to be accurate,


tended


likewise


to be reliably


tended


so and


to be reliably


those


(Fine


Danforth,


1975,


p. 69


Fine


and Danforth


conclude


that


"we do












Since


the initial


publication


of this


criticism


of the


RFT,


Fine


pursued


the issue.


In 1980,


he published


"Great


Frame-Tilt


Judging Contest,


" in


which Fine challenged readers


Perceptual and Motor Skills


to find any


article published


using


the RFT which


used subject-defined direction of


tilt.


Fine


reports


that he is attempting to draw attention


to the


fact


that


article


defined


which


the investigator


the RFT has


(Fine,


been


1980).


used,


Fine


the tilt has


believes


been


that


criticisms


of the


RFT have gone unacknowledged for too


long.


The methodology


of the RFT has


been criticized


on many


counts.


Some of


these


problems


could


cause the


sex


difference


be conservatively


estimated,


while other problems


would render


test conclusions unreliable.


in every


















CHAPTER


ECOLOGICAL APPROACH TO


PERCEPTION


In chapter


III,


was shown


that


there is not sufficient


empirical


evidence to support


the premise


that sex differences


traditional measures of


perception are due to differences


that


affect


practical functioning.


If there were


underlying deficits


women,


then


the hypothesized


processing differences


would have


been manifest across a


case.


wider range of


In the current chapter,


tasks than has


the discussion shifts


been


from a


concern


with


the validity


of accepted


tests


of perception,


consideration


of an alternative theory


of perception.


Specifically,


the idea


that


perception entails


processing


information


will


be critically


analyzed.


It will


be shown


that


more


Gibson


viable theoretical framework


a ecological approach


can


be derived from


to perception


James


(Gibson,


One of the


ways


in which


ecological


theory


departs


from


traditional


perceptual


theories


is that Gibson has


changed


focus


from


"spatial"


perception


"visual"


perception.


Gibson,


World


II pilot,


credits


this distinction


to his aviation


experience.


While flying he realized


that orientation depends












dense


fog,


for example,


there is


reduced knowldege of


surroundings;


therefore,


a pilot must depend


upon instruments


that


can collect


information


which


sensory


systems,


that


context,


cannot


pick-up.


Gibson


(1979)


considers space


to be no


thing,


and considered


literally


is not


the basis


for visual


perception.


perception


there


is a


pick-up of


information about


world.


Space,


contrast,


is an abstraction--it


the absence of


information.


The result of


this


shift in


wording from


spatial


perception


to the


visual


perception


of a layout


focuses attention


on perception


as an activity


that serves adaption


to one's niche.


Traditional approaches


to the


study


of perception assume that


perception


is a


process


whereby patterns of


energy


experienced


sensations are transformed into percepts--internal representations


an external reality.


In the


case


of vision,


the energy


consists of


photons of light reflected


collectively project an image on


from surfaces


the retina


that


to the


projection


area of


visual


cortex).


The image is


what


is sensed;


percept


what


the observer


knows after processing the


image,


This


going


implies


beyond


that


what


perception of


is given


world is


to direct


indirect--it involves


experience.


Perception must involve epistemic mediation,


in traditional


theory


, because a


projected image


imperfectly


specifies


what an


one












invariant under such


circumstances.


A variety


of processing


explanations have


been


proposed


to account for size constancy.


Gibson and others


who work within


the ecological


paradigm,


take


issue with


the idea


that


source


of information for


perception is


a discrete image.


Ever since someone peeled off


back of


the excised


eye of


a slaughtered ox and,


a scene,


observed a


tiny


holding


, colored,


t up in front
inverted image


of the scene on


tempted


the transparent retina,


to draw a false conclusion.


we have


We think of


been
the


image as something to


You can see
shouldn't t


it if


he ox


be seen,
take out


see it?


979,


a picture on a screen.


the ox' s
p. 62).


eye,


so why


Gibson argues


that


the retinal image


is not necessary


vision for two reasons.


First,


some seeing animals,


such


as the


arthropods,


have what


called a compound eye.


A compound eye


"no chamber,


no lens,


and no sensory


surface"


(Gibson,


1979,


Instead,


in a compound


eye,


there


is a closely packed set


of receptive


tubes called


ommatidia.


Each


of these


tubes


registers


light,


there


is nothing in


the arthropod


s eye


that


can


be construed


and yet


the anima


to be an image comparable to the retinal image,

1 can obtain information from light.


Second,


while many


species do have retinas,


there


is a


problem


with supposing that


perceiving involves


the inspection of


internal


images.


The need


to interpret discrete


images


implies


homunculus


(Turvey,


1977,


or what


Gibson


calls


"the


14441a ne~~~~~ An 41,I a lvW. A~ ,.4,aa. 441aa4n~--nn


_ ...


1 4 ~\n


1 Jl-^l mhr *m9 4


rrP I -V^ 'SM4 4 -nl


I n ar Ir^ 1~r 1 n"/ij T












fallacies


in the history


of psychology"


because


it conceives


a camera at


the end of a nerve cable


that


transmits


the image to the


brain.


Then


there


has to be


little man,


a homunculus,


seated in


brain


looks


at this


would have
a little e


physiological


to have


an eye


image.
see it


with a little retinal


The 1
with,
image


littlee man
of course,
connected t


a little


brain.


And so


we have explained nothing


this
since


theory.


We are


we are confronted


in fact


with


worse


off than


before,


the paradox of


infinite series


of little men,


each


within


the other


each looking at


the brain


of the next


bigger


man.


(Gibson,


1979,


60).


In Gibson's


theory,


observers'


sources


of information about


their world are not discrete


projected images


the patterns


light


energy


external


to the observer.


That is,


instead


supposing that


the brain


processes an image


projected


light,


conceives of


the eye and


brain


comprising a system


that


extracts


information from


the ambient optic


array--the light


that


is given


structure


by the


specific


surfaces


from


which it


is reflected.


Gibson's


working assumption is


rich in information.


utility


that


the ambient optic array


of this approach


can


seen


which


the theory


accounts


for size constancy.


Seeing


size constancy


object requires


despite a change in


epistemic mediation,


from


the visual angle


traditional


perspective.


specified


From


the ecological


the ambient


optic arr


perspective, a

ay. Consider,


niz constancy

if the visual


, a


*. *


S-I


..v 'n A i ,n nn e S -A i I I .s m aA A% |


J ir *r~ cr IrF ~~n~A


nr -l rr J* ,


A q A












a unique


optical


flow pattern.


Thus,


the optical flow pattern


be said


to specify


whether


object size has changed.


object moves


there


will


be a


progressive accretion or deletion,


depending on


the direction


of movement,


of surfaces at


surrounding edge of the


object.


If the observer moves,


there


will


be accretion


or deletion of


surfn aces at


the edge


of the


visual


field.


size changes,


accretion or deletion


will


occur only at


the leading


edge of


change.)


The observer does not have


correct for apparent


seem


change


to be changing size


in object size.


first


The object does not


place.


The size


constancy


example


illustrates


Gibson's general


approach


to perception.


showing that


the ambient


optic array


is rich in information


that is


specific to


its source


environment,


perception can


be conceived


to entail


the direct


pick-up of


information.


This


is radically


different from


belief


that


perception is an adumbrative


process


whereby


impoverished image gets


enriched


by mind.


Ecologizing:


Perception


Gibson


(1979)


faults


traditional research and


theory


for not


studying perception as


it occurs in natural


contexts.


example,


it is


common in studies


of perception,


present a


simple display,


for a


very


brief


interval,


via a


tachistoscope.


Information about


perceptual functioning


inferred from reaction


can












generalizability.


Both


the amount of


information


that


presented and


the time allowed for


perusal are far more


restricted


than is


ordinarily


case.


Thus,


perception


will


appear to


be a constructive or elaborative process


only


because


subjects


are precluded from


obtaniing information.


Such


experiments,


effect,


generate


between subject


variability


forcing observers


to make guesses about


the nature


of the display.


Gibson's


(1979)


use of the term


"ecological"


underscores


what


sees


as the task


of perceptual


theory


, which is


to explain how


sensory


systems are


used


to acquire


knowledge


of the world.


Experimentation,


from


the ecological


perspective,


is designed


uncover the


variables


that are operative


in the perception of


world.


Ecological researchers


insist


that


experimental methods


and materials


be consonant


with


the requirements


of adaptive


functioning.


Another sense


which


Gibson'


theory


ecological


is in


treatment of


organism and


environment


as a unity.


physical


world


an environment


if and


only


an organism


inhabits


Without


the organism,


physical


world


is merely


that,


a physical


world.


An environment does not exist


without


organism.


Similarly


, an organism implies


the existence of


environment

Animal and


This


Environment


is referred


(Gibson,


to as the Principle


1979).


of Mutuality


The animal and its













the characteristics


required for an animal


to survive


there.


There


a "fitness of


universe for


life"


(Turvey


& Shaw,


1979,


p. 189).


This


synergistic


relationship applies


to an animal


asa


perceiving agent and


the environment


as that


which is


perceived.


Sensory


systems


have evolved


to extract


information at


a grain


size


of a quality


compatible


with


the organism's mode


adaptation.


Each species has


sensory


systems required


adaptation in its niche.


From an


adaptive,


ecological


it cannot


perspective,


be a fabricative


perception


process--adaptive


to be

responding


depends upon accurate


knowledge


of the world


as it is.


Traditional


theories are dualistic


the environment


as compatible


that


they treat


but independent.


the organism


They


do that


assuming


that


perception is


a process


that is not constrained


the information in


energy


distributions.


Their dualism


contrasts


with


Gibson's


synergistic


conceptualization:


Perceiving
appearance
It is a ke


is an achievement of


theater


eping-in-touch


of his


with


an individual,
[her] conscio
e world, an


not an
)usness.


experiencing of
experiences. I


things,


rather than a having of


t involves awareness-of


instead


just awareness. I
the environment or


t may


the obse


something in
rver or both


at once, bu
independent


there


of that of


no content of


which one


awareness


aware.


Perception is not


bodily


act.


a mental act.


PerceivinL is


Neither


a Dsvchosomatic act.


a
not


be awareness of


something in












When


the information for perception


available


in the


ambient optic


array


instead


of in space,


or in the mind,


the focus


of measurement

the organism.


shifts to

Ecological


the world as it

theory assumes


exists

that t


in relationship to


he environment


holds


the information necessary for perception.


The goal


ecological


optics


is to "describe the relationship


between


environment and


perceptual


information"


(Lombardo,


1973,


p. 451).


The ecological measurement of


perception considers


task


requirements


in relationship


to organismic adaptation.


Invariants


The term


"invariant"


is used


by Gibson


1979


to signify


regularities


patterns


of energy that specify


objects and


events


the environment.


The size constancy problem


was used


earlier


in this


chapter to show


flow patterns.


mechanical,


There are


object size


invariants


perhaps chemical


is specified in


to be found in


stimulation


[which]


optical


"acoustic,


may prove to


be closely


related


to the


optical"


(Gibson,


1979,


Under


ordinary


circumstances,


are compatible.


invariants


For example,


in different


the ripeness of


types


a fruit


energy


is specified


in its feel,


redundancy


smell,


in invariants.


and its color.


Gibson has


There


worked at


is overlap and some


identifying


optical


invariants


and suggests


that


the study


of invariants has


just


oegun.


There are higher order


invariants


that specify


11).












According


to Gibson


(1979)


organisms evolve to use that


which


their niche offers


for functioning,


which he


refers


as an


affordance.


There are


positive and negat


affordances.


affordance


"a specific combination


of the properties of


thing's]


substance and its


surfaces


taken


with reference


animal"

example


(Turvey


affords


& Shaw, 19

breathing


7


9, p.

(for


205

some


The medium


species).


of the air,


A barrier


usually


prevents


looking through and


therefore


a negative


affordance


for vision.


Other


organisms


afford social interaction,


while


edge


a cliff


affords


injury.


Invariants


the layout


surfaces,


objects,


mediums,


and affordances are


extracted


to guide


behavior.


According to Gibson,


the observer may


affordance,
affordance,
perceived.


object


a ne


perceiving it.
because it is


or may not


according to his
being invariant,


An affordance


ed of
The
what


perceive
[her] n


or attend


eeds,


is always


is not


an observer a
object offers


it is.


(1979,


to the


but the


there to


bestowed upon an
nd his [her] act
what it does
p. 139)


The relationship


between


the environment and


perceptual


information is


assumed


to be lawful.


This assumption


is the


larger issue distinguishing


ecological


theory


from


traditional


theory.


Ecological


theory


assumes


that


there


are


uniformities


nature that


are


"expressions


an underlying


coherent


framework


of laws,


" while


traditional


theory


assumes


that


uniformities


nature are


"inventions of


the human mind,


applied


to nature












Iisoercention


In order to


pick up the


rich,


coherent


information


that


available


in the


world,


the organism must attend


to the


information,


both


or be "attuned"


phylogenetically


to it (Gibson


ontogenetically


1979).


influenced.


Attunement


There


species-specific


system limitations


on perception.


Adaptive


functioning does not require sensitivity to all aspects


of the


environment


for each species.


are a source of lack of

Within a species,


Interspecies genetic


sensitivity to


attunement


perceptual


is affected


limitations


information.

experience over


the lifespan.


Ontogenic attunement occurs as a function of


practice,


learning,


other variables


such as


personal


interest.


Differential attunement


to information


occurs


both among people


within


a given


individual


from


time


to tine.


Errors


perception


can occur when


organisms are not attuned


to relevant


information.


as ecological


theory


predicts,


perception


enhanced


experience,


then


the view that differences


perception


between members


of the


same


species are


genetically


determined is contradicted.


The attuning effects


of experience


perception have


been


tested;


these results


will


be presented in


chapter


Another cause of


misperception


occurs


when information is


masked


or hidden from


the viewer.


For example,


when


viewing












Errors can also occur when


viewers are distracted and,


therefore,

case with


fail


magic


to attend

tricks.


to salient

Here again,


information.


the errors


perception


due to a failure


to pick-up or register information,


not a failure


of the ability to construct or process


information.


Time.

Recall from


In the real


chapter


world,


that


information is not discrete.


one of the major assumptions


traditional


theory


is that


the organism discretely


samples


environment.

source of er


Restrictions


Tor in


on the time allowed for perception


perception.


Ecological


theory


, by


contrast


assumes


that


perceiving


is a


continuous activity without finite


units of


time and


without


discrete


stimuli.


Gibson says


of perceiving that


it is


continuous act,


an activity


that


ceaseless and


unbroken"


(Gibson,


1979,


p. 24).


Perception


entails


knowledge


of events


over nonarbitrary time.


Information is


coextensive


with


events;


for accurate perception,


events need


only


to be detected,


reconstituted from memory.


The traditional


view


of perception


that it


occurs


"in and


of the present alone,


discrete time-slice"


distinct


(Michaels


from


the past and future


& Carello,


, p.


Perception,


in traditional


theory,


is thought


to be


a result


the construction of


discrete


retinal


images.


In order to


are


This












confuses


perception and


inference


(Turvey,


Shaw,


Reed,


& Mace,


1981,


P. 257).


The ecological


view that


perception is an activity


that


occurs


example,


over time


show that


been


tested.


there are


Pittenger and.


invariants


Todd


in the visual


perception


of slow


biological


events


such


as growth


or aging.


These


researchers asked subjects


to estimate


of figures


drawings.


By using unfamiliar figures


such as


robots


, Pittenger and


Todd


were able


to determine


that subjects


consistently rely

of the drawing and


on the relationship


the size


between


of the body.


the size


Proportional


of the head

ity of body


parts


invariant


information about


an organism and


accounts


for 96


percent of


variance


estimations.


Perception


of aging


is an


example


of biological


event


perception


over


great


spans


of time.


People directly pierce


changes


that


occur


over decades.


The duration


of perception


is directly


related


to the duration of


events.


As they


limit


time for receiving,


traditional


theories


also


limit movement


their experiments.


Ecological


theory


, by


contrast,


recognizes


the organism


as an active


seeker


of information.


Animals are mobile and


Tare


able


to adjust


their


activities


to search


out information.


As organisms move


about


the visual system scans,


looks,


isolates,


examines details in


Martian


Movement.












Sensory


systems.


Errors


in perception


can also


occur


artificial


situations such


as those


of traditional


experiments


that attempt


to confuse


Perception involves,


one sense or another.


senses


as Gibson


Gibson


says,

(1966)


with


contradictory


a living


views


observer,


senses


information.


just


as a system


for picking-up


information about


the world.


Every


part of


organismic


system


resonates


to information.


The eyes learn


where,


and how,


to look.


Limbs,


feet,


and hands learn how to move to


accomplish goals.


The neck learns


Curious anomalies


will aris


to turn

e, to be


(Gibson,


sure,


1979).

the


information got


by the


visual system is discrepant


with


that


obtained


by the muscle-joint system,


or the


vestibular system,


uncertain,


for then


confused,


experiment are
(Gibson, 1979,


the observer


the results of


open to many
p. 116)


interpretations.


organism,


attuned


as a whole,


to invariants


with


senses


environmental


working together,


events


which afford


adaptive


Summary


The essential


premises


of the ecological


theory


of perception


are that


perception is adaptive,


physical


events are conveyed in


energy


patterns,


physical


events


are perceived


with reference


what


they


afford,


perception


of affordances depends upon


phylogenetic and


ontogenetic attunement


(McArthur


& Baron,


1983


Ecological


theory


emphasizes


the accuracy


of perception.


behavior.












recognized


this


problem


when he


wrote,


"the


science of


vision,


almost


from


beginning,


has emphasized


inadequacies of


vision"


(1950,


p. 43).


The traditional


emphasis


on errors


stens


from the ps

differences


ychometric


in ability.


practice


of quantifying


An analysis


errors


individual

, from Gibson's


point


of view,


reveals


what


the organism does


when


it fails


perceive,


what


involved


when


the relevant information


picked-up.


The purpose of


ecological research is


to identify


provide


information for perception.


These


invariants


assumed


to be specific


to their source,


and lawful.


Traditional


theory


has aimed


its investigations


on the organism for the


purpose


of revealing


internal


organismic


processes.


This approach


neglects


that


which


is perceived


because


assumes


organism


"prescribes


to nature"


(Turvey


Shaw,


Reed,


& Itace,


1981,


p. 29


In a


tribute to James


Gibson


the uniqueness


of ecological


theory was


summed


MacLeod and Pick:


The important


point


that


the mind


is not a


structure


but a function.


Animals reach out


to coDe


with an


environment.


mysterious mind
organism is cons


The primary


fact


but a functioning or
tantly coping with a


is not


ganism.
vastly


The
complex


environment.
of potential
picked up and
p. 12)


The environment


information,


used


only


contains
some of


by the adjusting org


endless


items


which are
anism. (1974,


are


that


invariants


that











commitment


to accounting for adaptive


concluding chapter

to the question of


follows,


whether the ob


functioning.


In the


studies are reviewed t

stained sex differences


hat

are


pertain

due to


the education of


attention--ontogenic attunement--versus


being a


function


of innate


structural differences.


















CHAPTER


CONCLUSION


AN EXTENSION


OF ECOLOGICAL


THEORY


Textbooks


in psychology


and related fields


report


that


women


are inferior


example


in spatial ability.


of the treatment


Recall,


of the issue.


from


chapter


"In spatial ability,


nales


have a clear superiority.


Of all


the differences


in intellectual


activity


, those


in spatial ability


seem


most


likely to originate


in genetic differences


between


the sexes"


(Gage


& Berliner,


1979,


p. 201).


As with most


textbooks


psychology,


Gage


and Berliner


cite Maccoby


and Jacklin


(1974)


as the source for this


conclusion.


Extent of


the Sex Difference


The sex difference


in spatial.


perception reported


rIaccoby


Jacklin


(1974)


has become a


virtual


truism


psychology,


indicated


universal


inclusion in


psychology textbooks.


Textbooks,


however,


typically


do not


include


a discussion


of the


size


of the sex difference.


In a reanalysis


of iiaccoby


Jacklin'


data,


Hyde


(1981)


addresses


this


issue.


Hyde


conducted


a meta-analysis of the data reported in


Psychology


of Sex


Differences.


According to


Hyde,


"meta-analysis


is a


technique


analyzing


a body


of research on a


particular topic


statistical












Iaccoby


Jacklin's collection


of research,


Hyde


found


that


gender differences account for only


about 4


percent of


variance


"visual-spatial ability"


3 percent


of the variance


"field articulation"


892).


(Visual-spatial ability


Hyde's name for IIaccoby and


ability.

ability.)


Jacklin


Field articulation refers


s spatial


to spatial


(visual-nonanalytic)

(visual-analytic)


Hyde


1981


conducted her analysis


because of


limitations


of statistical hypothesis


testing.


Specifically,


a statistical


analysis may


indicate


that an independent


variable affects


test


performance.


This does not address


whether the effect


is of


sufficient magnitude


to be educationally meaningful.


As it turns


out,


"well


established"


sex differences


on spatial ability


tests are


actually


quite small.


greater amount of


variance,


that


is not accounted for


percent),


represents


gender differences


within gender variation and


(96 or 97

error of


measurement.


one's


Hyde concludes


performance on ability


that "

tests"


gender is


a poor predictor


the area of


spatial


perception


P. 897).


Furthermore,


sex


differences


so small


that


"we should question


wisdom of


mentioning them"


introductory


texts


97).


If Hyde'


dissertation


data,


, were


the update


to be considered in


presented in


textbooks,


this


Gage


are












than


was in 1974.


the variation


within


The male


either


advantage


sex,


is less


gender accounts


significant


for less


than


than


percent


of individual differences


in performance.


Effects


of Practice


Traditional


theories


treat


perception


as an ability


individual


that


is innate


and resistant


to training.


Current


treatments


of the nature


of abilities


"strongly


suggest


a cone


of factors


as relatively permanent,


underlying,


causal


entities"


(Anastasi,


1983,


p. 177).


,hen i;accoby


and Jacklin


(1974)


wrote


their text,


issue


of the effects of


practice


was considered


unresolved.


At that


time


there


was some


published research showing that


practice


enhanced


test


performance,


suggesting that spatial ability


scores


are a function


of differential


experience.


Other studies


reviewed


iMaccoby


Jacklin show no


changes in


test


performance


asa


function


of training or practice.


One of the


look


(EFT)


studies


at the effects


reviewed


of practice used.


as the dependent measure


Jacklin


!accoby


the Embedded Figures


(Goldstein


& Chance,


that did


Test


1965).


this


study


, practice reduced


initial


sex difference


performance


"almost


zero"


361)


women


the study


improved more than men.


Goldstein and


Chance


conclude


that


score


part


a basic trait


that


is stable.


They


suggest












being


exposed


to many


EFT items,


power


of the concept


indeed diminished"


(Goldstein


& Chance,


1965,


P. 3


They


suggest


that men have


had more task relevant experience


therefore


their


initial scores are


better than


initial


scores


women.


Since


the publication


of The


Psychology


of Sex Differences,


further research has


been conducted


to measure changes


test


performance


after


subjects


were given


practice


or training.


results


of Goldstein and


Chance


1965


have


been replicated.


every


study


published since


1974,


performance


improved


with


practice.


Practice can facilitate performance on all


of the spatial


tests


that have


been studied.


When Sherman


(1974)


allowed college


students


the opportunity to practice on the


RFT,


performance


improved significantly for


both females and males.


There was no


significant


sex difference on


in this study;


however,


on a


questionnaire that


assessed


subjects'


attitudes about


the RFT


, the


males


were more


confidant about


their performance than


were


females.


Connor,


Serbin,


and Schackman


(1977)


challenge the


laccoby


and Jacklin


conclusion


that


sex


differences


spatial ability


result from genetic differences.


They


suggest


that


"females may


have


less opportunity to learn and


practice"


skills


related


to the












experience


on the Children'


EFT to 133 children


between


ages


of six and


years.


The children


were randomly


assigned


to two


experimental


conditions and


a control group.


The experimental


conditions


The results


varied


difference at

significantly


the extent of


of the study were


pretest and

better than


that


training that


there was


was provided.


no significant


sex


the older children performed

the younger children. Girls given


training showed improved


performance,


with


those in


the more


intensive


training group


showing


significant


improvement over the


other


groups


of girls.


There


was no improvement among the


boys,


regardless


of their


group


assignment.


authors


suggest


that


differences


on spatial


tests appear to reflect


sex-linked


cultural


differences


that,


any case,


differences


performance


"experimentally malleable,


whatever


origins"


(Connor,


Serbin,


& Schackman,


1977


94).


These authors


speculate


that


differences


types of


toys


with


which


boys and girls


play may


contribute


to differences


jpB^asw^5


performance.


This idea


received support elsewhere


the psychological literature


e.g.


Caaserly,


1980


Witecki,


The effects


of training


on EFT performance also


has been


tested


with adults as


subjects.


Johnson,


Flinn


, and


Tyer


(1979)


found


that among undergraduate students,


all groups


show


significant improvement


with


training.


These authors


tested


are












TrainingT


on a specific


task


facilitates


performance


on that


task.


Training,


however,


need not


be task specific to facilitate


performance.


McGee


1978


tested


the effects


of "unobtrusive


on spatial


test


performance


Unobtrusive


training consisted


a one hour


lecture


on the nature


of spatial


ability


which


was attended


subjects.


This small amount of


nonspecific


training resulted in significant


test


score


improvement for


both men and


women.


Males


performed


better


both


pretest and


posttest.


Since


test scores


were so readily


enhanced


by training,


McGee suggests


that routine


sex-typed


environmental activities may


cause the initial sex differences


test


performance.


An example


of the


types of


activity that might


influence test


performance,


according to


IcGee,


are those that


involve directionality


(such


as map reading or driving),


those


that involve mechanical


skills.


Petrusic,


Varro,


and Jamieson


1978


selected


three


spatial


tests


for their research


performance.


As in


on the effects of


the previously


experience on


cited studies,


test


these authors


found


that spatial


test scores


were


improved


by training on


task.


Subjects in


this


study


were


Canadian


college students,


were paid for their participation.


with each measure.


Subjects


were tested


Experimental subjects received


twice


practice


trials


on a related


test


between


pretest and


posttest


with


the dependent


training"