Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The theory of signal detection was used to determine sex differences in recognition memory for a social task using favorable, neutral, and unfavorable statements about men and women. Signal detection affords two measures: d' represents a measure of S's sensitivity (memory) and β a measure of his criterion or willingness to respond based on his memory.

Descriptions of people were scaled by ten men and ten women for degree of favorability. From these items, four lists were constructed and given to twenty male and twenty female undergraduates at the University of North Dakota. The independent variables used in the study were sex of subject, sex of statement, favorability of statement, and category of judgment. d’ and β were the dependent variables. The measures were analyzed using a four-way factorial design with repeated measures on all variables except sex of subject.

No effects for sex of subject were found, indicating that for this task, males and females do not differ in recognition memory. There also was no effect due to sex of statement indicating that male and female items were recalled equally as well by men and women. A linear relationship was found for simple effects of categories at the three levels of favorability for d'. This accounted for most of the variance for this effect indicating that d' decreased as S/s criterion changed but at a different rate for favorable, neutral, and unfavorable statements.