Remember those images of shapes broken up into little square boxes, and the multiple choice test asking you to picture the same shape rotated differently? Such spatial reasoning is a stereotypically male skill. Well, a study out of the University of Berlin shows that women who were asked to imagine themselves having stereotypically masculine personality traits–strength, risk taking, assertiveness, and the like–performed as well as male peers on the spacial reasoning test immediately following this picture-yourself-as exercise, while women who were asked to imagine themselves having stereotypically feminine personality traits–agreeableness, caring for others, etc.–performed much lower than male peers on the special reasoning test right afterward.
“Gender priming” influenced women’s performance, big time.
This reminds us that allowing women to imagine themselves with the assertiveness and entitlement to fight back against an assailant can make an appreciable difference in their actual ability. If you can picture testicles rotated in space, you might be more likely to be able to actually rotate them in space if a guy you’re with won’t take no for an answer.