Sunday, December 20, 2015

Why Do Girls Read the Directions? Because They Have To

IKEA furniture test proves girls are dumb Hey, I didn't say that.
There has long been a belief that there’s a difference between the brains of men and women which somehow makes the boys better at spatial configuration and visualizing three dimensional figures than the girls. Is it true or is this just an artifact of gender biased testing from the bad old days? The Washington Post reported this week on a fascinating test designed to solve this riddle by allowing men and women to assemble IKEA furniture both with and without the directions. The results were… mixed.
The study asked 40 men and 40 women, all university-aged, to put together an IKEA kitchen cart by themselves. Some people got copies of the assembly manual. Others only had a drawing of the final cart.
With the instruction manual, men and women assembled the cart in about the same amount of time on average, and at roughly the same level of quality. Both genders took around 23 minutes to put the cart together, and on average they only made a few small mistakes, like forgetting some screws, for instance.
For those without the step-by-step diagrams, though, the difference between genders was dramatic. Men took around 24 minutes on average, but women took over 28 minutes, a difference of over 20 percent. Had the researchers not cut people off after 30 minutes, the gender disparity might have been even wider. Women were also far more likely to have major problems with their kitchen carts, like missing a shelf or a railing.
In addition to the known differences in spatial abilities of men and women, I would suggest that experience plays a large role in this, too.  Boys and men spend far more time breaking apart and putting stuff back together than men.

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