Sex matters: Why guys recognize cars and women recognize birds best
Some of the images used in the object recognition test. Credit: Gauthier Lab
(Medical Xpress)—Women are better than men at recognizing living things and men are better than women at recognizing vehicles.
That is the unanticipated result of an analysis Vanderbilt psychologists performed on data from a series of visual recognition tasks collected in the process of developing a new standard test for expertise in object recognition.
"These results aren't definitive, but they are consistent with the following story," said Gauthier. "Everyone is born with a general ability to recognize objects and the capability to get really good at it. Nearly everyone becomes expert at recognizing faces, because of their importance for social interactions. Most people also develop expertise for recognizing other types of objects due to their jobs, hobbies or interests. Our culture influences which categories we become interested in, which explains the differences between men and women."
The results were published online on Aug. 3 in the Vision Research journal in an article titled, "The Vanderbilt Expertise Test Reveals Domain-General and Domain-Specific Sex Effects in Object Recognition."
This video is not supported by your browser at this time."Our motivation was to assess the role that expertise plays in object recognition with a new test that includes many different categories, so we weren't looking for this result," said Professor of Psychology Isabel Gauthier. She directs the lab where post-doctoral fellow Rankin McGugin conducted the study.
"This isn't the first time that sex differences have been found in perceptual tasks. For example, previous studies have shown that men have an advantage in mental rotation tasks. In fact, a recent study looking only at car recognition found that men were better than women but attributed this to the male advantage in mental rotation. Our finding that women are better than men at recognizing objects in other categories suggests that this explanation is incorrect."
Discovery of the sex effect in object recognition also casts doubt on several studies that claim an individual's ability to recognize faces is largely independent of his or her ability to recognize objects.
This is an illustration of gender differences in object recognition. Credit: Julie Turner, Vanderbilt University"Face recognition abilities are exciting to study because they have been found to have a clear genetic basis," said Gauthier, "and many studies conclude that abilities in face recognition are not predicted by abilities in object recognition. But this is usually based on comparing faces to only one object category for men and women."
It took the multi-category analysis to reveal that face recognition abilities are correlated to the ability to recognize different object categories for men and women. For example, men who are better at recognizing vehicles also tend to be better at recognizing faces, while women who are better at recognizing living things tend to be better at recognizing faces.
The researchers modeled their new test after the well-established Cambridge Face Memory Task, which effectively measures a person's ability to recognize faces. After familiarizing themselves with a number of images, participants are shown three images at a time – one from the study group and two that they haven't seen before – and then are asked to pick out the image that they had studied.
While one goal of the new study was to compare object and face recognition skills, another goal was to develop a better way to measure who has exceptional skills in one domain: how to find the experts in the recognition of cars or birds or even mushrooms. To do this, the Vanderbilt researchers reasoned that performance on any category of interest needed to be compared to performance on many other categories, to ensure that the self-proclaimed bird expert is not only better with birds than most people, but also better with birds than with most other categories. So they designed the new test with eight categories of visually similar objects: leaves, owls, butterflies, wading birds, mushrooms, cars, planes and motorcycles.
To evaluate the new test, they administered it to 227 subjects – 75 male and 82 female – with a mean age of 23. When the results of the entire group were analyzed, the researchers found that increasing the number of categories revealed a large sex difference: Women proved significantly better at recognizing living things while men were better at recognizing vehicles. In addition, the researchers administered a face recognition test to about half of the participants, which allowed them to determine the correlation between vehicle recognition and face recognition in men and the correlation between recognition of living things and faces in women.
More information: dx.doi.org/10.1016… .2012.07.014
Provided by Vanderbilt University
- People see sexy pictures of women as objects, not people May 15, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Why do some people never forget a face? Dec 01, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Genes responsible for ability to recognize faces Feb 22, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Putting a name to a face may be key to brain's facial expertise Jun 16, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- New research about facial recognition turns common wisdom on its head Mar 19, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Why is zone 1 in liver more prone to ischemic injury?
May 23, 2013 Hi, Is it because around central vein, there is only deoxygenated blood from the vein where as in the periphery there is hepatic artery. Also why...
How can there be villous adenoma in colon, if there are no villi there
May 22, 2013 As title suggest. Thanks :smile:
How can there be a term called "intestinal metaplasia" of stomach
May 21, 2013 Hello everyone, Ok Stomach's normal epithelium is simple columnar, now in intestinal type of adenocarcinoma of stomach it undergoes "intestinal...
Pressure-volume curve: Elastic Recoil Pressure don't make sense
May 18, 2013 From pressure-volume curve of the lung and chest wall (attached photo), I don't understand why would the elastic recoil pressure of the lung is...
If you became brain-dead, would you want them to pull the plug?
May 17, 2013 I'd want the rest of me to stay alive. Sure it's a lousy way to live but it beats being all-the-way dead. Maybe if I make it 20 years they'll...
MRI bill question
May 15, 2013 Dear PFers, The hospital gave us a $12k bill for one MRI (head with contrast). The people I talked to at the hospital tell me that they do not...
- More from Physics Forums - Medical Sciences
More news stories
Psychology & Psychiatry 17 hours ago | 4.5 / 5 (10) | 1 |
Nervous about that upcoming job interview? You might want to take steps to reduce your jitters, especially if you are a man.
Psychology & Psychiatry 18 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Research by U of T Mississauga psychology professor Glenn Schellenberg reveals that two key personality traits – openness-to-experience and conscientiousness—predict better than IQ ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 20 hours ago | 3 / 5 (2) | 1 |
Parents naturally are concerned for their children's safety, particularly when there is news of a child abduction that happens close to home. Finding the balance between emotions and the "teachable moment" as parents talk ...
Psychology & Psychiatry 20 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
A new report on suicide in Ireland shows that suicide cases experienced a significant number (and intensity) of life events in the 6 months prior to their death.
Psychology & Psychiatry 20 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
53 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
11 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (6) | 0 |
15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 2 |
15 hours ago | 5 / 5 (2) | 0 |
15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |