Gender differences in global-local perception? Evidence from orientation and shape judgments

Ruth Kimchi, Rama Amishav, Anat Sulitzeanu-Kenan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Direct examinations of gender differences in global-local processing are sparse, and the results are inconsistent. We examined this issue with a visuospatial judgment task and with a shape judgment task. Women and men were presented with hierarchical stimuli that varied in closure (open or closed shape) or in line orientation (oblique or horizontal/vertical) at the global or local level. The task was to classify the stimuli on the basis of the variation at the global level (global classification) or at the local level (local classification). Women's classification by closure (global or local) was more accurate than men's for stimuli that varied in closure on both levels, suggesting a female advantage in discriminating shape properties. No gender differences were observed in global-local processing bias. Women and men exhibited a global advantage, and they did not differ in their speed of global or local classification, with only one exception. Women were slower than men in local classification by orientation when the to-be-classified lines were embedded in a global line with a different orientation. This finding suggests that women are more distracted than men by misleading global oriented context when performing local orientation judgments, perhaps because women and men differ in their ability to use cognitive schemes to compensate for the distracting effects of the global context. Our findings further suggest that whether or not gender differences arise depends not only on the nature of the visual task but also on the visual context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Gender differences
  • Global-local perception
  • Orientation judgment
  • Shape judgment
  • Visual context

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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