Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




The present study examined the degree to which reported sex differences in verbal and spatial memory performance are due to confounds between the sexes on the individual difference factors of verbal ability, spatial ability, and sex-role orientation. Specifically, college age males and females were administered psychometric tests of verbal ability, spatial ability, and sex-role orientation. The contribution of each of these factors to predicting subjects' scores on verbal and spatial memory tasks was analyzed using regression analysis procedures.

Results indicated a male advantage on spatial ability tasks, however, no sex differences in verbal ability were found. Gender of subject was not found to be a significant predictor of either verbal or spatial memory performance. Males were found to identify themselves as more traditionally masculine than did females. However, both males and females were found to aspire to traditionally masculine intellectual traits. Factors which emerged as predictive of memory performance included spatial ability and identification with masculine intellectual traits. Specifically, proficiency at verbal memory tasks was best predicted by high spatial ability and a more masculine view of one's intellectual attributes. A masculine sex-role orientation and high spatial ability were found to predict spatial memory performance on one task, however, on a second spatial memory task a more feminine sex-role orientation was predictive of better performance.

The results of the present study suggest that differences in memory performance are in part explained by individual differences in cognitive abilities and sex-role orientation and cannot be adequately explained by looking only at sex of subject.