Males Show Improved Perspective-Taking Performance When Females Images Occupy Locations in the Spatial Array: Preliminary Evidence Consistent With Sexual Selection of Spatial Skills?

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One tenet of sexual selection theory posits that females select males on the basis of physical attributes because these attributes serve as indicators of fitness. Relatively recently, evolutionary psychologists have suggested that females also select males on the basis of cognitive attributes because such attributes also serve as indicators of fitness. Spatial abilities are hypothesized to be one such cognitive attribute, but evidence supporting this hypothesis is lacking. We tested this hypothesis by having human male participants engage in a perspective-taking task (imagine standing at object A, facing object B, point to object C). We manipulated the content of the objects forming the spatial array to present either images of human females, animals, or kaleidoscope snippets. Pointing accuracy for males viewing images of females was superior to that of males viewing animals or kaleidoscope snippets. Results appear to provide preliminary evidence consistent with sexual selection of spatial abilities.


Comparative Cognition Society’s Annual Fall Meeting (CCS)


Toronto, Canada