Memory for face locations: Emotional processing alters spatial abilities
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The present study was designed to delineate further the female advantage in location memory by testing memory for faces that varied in their emotional expressions. A female advantage in face location was found, consistent with the implicit assumption that a female advantage in location memory is not dependent on the nature of the stimulus. However, exposure to threatening facial expressions abolished (in the instance of mental rotation) or reversed (in the instance of location memory) the characteristic sex differences in task performance. In both males and females, a brief exposure to sad facial expressions impaired subsequent performance on a targeting task. These findings suggest that sex differences in male and female spatial ability are not fixed or absolute but may be influenced by a sex-dimorphic affective system that is responsive to the immediate demands of a social context. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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