Undergraduate Honors Thesis


The Sex Mosaic: Examining Multiple Approaches on a Visual Spatial Task Public Deposited

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  • Identification of sex differences in the human brain are of high interest due to their support of a binary understanding of sex. Cleanly characterizing individuals into distinct binary categories of male and female helps justify a long history of differential treatment and expectations of females and males in education, in the work place and in the home. Piaget’s 1946 Water-Level Test, originally designed to investigate a timeline of human development of physical principles like gravity, has been used numerous times since the 1960s to equate good performance on the test with males and poor performance with females. This study, while it acknowledges differences in performance of the water level test between sexes, paints a different picture of success and failure for this test. It provides evidence of an additional strategy that both females and males use. Besides drawing a horizontal line, as most studies have assessed, this investigation uncovered an approach of drawing a glass half-full. When looking at the test results in a broader context like this, it shows that no approach is exclusive to a particular sex. The biggest portion of females and males both approach the task as one of both attempting to draw a horizontal line and a glass half full, with males and some females then leaning on an approach of drawing a horizontal line and females and some males then leaning on an approach of drawing a glass half-full. Since none of the approaches are exclusive to one sex, this research seeks to influence future experiments to go beyond a binary approach when characterizing differences in human brains and behavior and recognize a spectrum of possibilities that represents the similarities of the human species.

Date Awarded
  • 2020-10-30
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Last Modified
  • 2020-11-05
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  • Phares, Erin. The Sex Mosaic: Examining Multiple Approaches on a Visual Spatial Task. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. Boulder, Colorado: University of Colorado-Boulder, 2020.


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