Mental rotation and sexual orientation

Patricia Ann Wade, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Mental rotation, a type of visuo-spatial ability, is the ability to imagine a figure rotating in space without verbal mediation. Gender differences in the performance of mental rotation tasks are well documented but the relationship between sexual orientation and mental rotation is uncertain. This study investigates the relationship between gender, sexual orientation and scores of 584 university students on the Vandenberg Mental Rotation Test. A 2 x 2 ANOVA reveals a main effect for gender, a main effect for sexual orientation, and significant interaction between gender and sexual orientation. Mental rotation scores differentiate heterosexual male students from gay male, lesbian, and heterosexual female students. Results are discussed from a cognitive-strategic perspective.