By: Chrysa Smith
Remember when you first learned that ‘Girls Rule?’ Kindergarten? While nursing? Well, it’s likely that at some point, you did. And maybe you felt that way because someone told you so–or you did something wonderful that made you believe that you, a girl, had to be superior. But it was possibly the fact that for some tasks, you, a girl, are just hard-wired better than a boy. And that’s always a reason to put a smirky ‘I’m better than you‘ look on your face in front of your significant other.
It’s interesting science, and it’s at the basis of the new National Geographic series: Brain Games. My son introduced me to this the other night and I was hooked immediately. In this episode, it was a match of the sexes. Just who is better at memory? color selection? packing a trunk? being thorough?
The first exercise was the old-fashioned match game. Look at the board of faces, cover them up, reveal them one at a time and try to remember where the mate was. Women scored significantly higher on this task, as their facial recognition is far better. This explains why I most always remember a face, but not a name. Again, when a spectrum of red shades were shown on a page, women could immediately see that there were seven distinct shades, while the men could only imagine a possible three. Once the shades were shown pushed together, with no separation between them, they lined up like visible stripes and it became obvious that there were seven gradations. With about 8% of men being color-blind, it only affects less than 1% of women. On the third task, again, the women came in better. This time, it was a bit of a trick, as each couple was separately given a list of tasks to complete—put on lipstick, a mascot head, an item of clothing, etc. The one who finished first was clearly the best. While most of the men hit the list running, most of the women read through the entire sheet. At the bottom, it said that now that you’ve read this, ignore the entire list of tasks and just sign the bottom of the page. Each woman calmly did this, while their husbands were busy with bright lips, chicken heads and women’s clothing. Apparently, men are so hard-wired for competition (really?) that they just jumped right in without reading the fine details. Makes you wonder who you want as your doctor, lawyer, butcher?
But while on a high over all of the female success, the one task women did not fare so well with was packing a car trunk. Each couple was presented with a trunk full of items. They got to study them, then they were removed. Each couple had to repack the trunk, not in the same order it was packed, but they had to make sure everything fit and the trunk could be closed. One by one, each man completed the task quicker and easier. And this is apparently due to men’s better spatial perception. They can just envision such things better —explains why my husband can leave for a week’s trip with one small carry-on and I need a huge trunk. This also explains another task that men scored better on. When shown a geometric shape, then shown pieces of a geometric shape, the men could each choose the pieces that would, if shifted around, become that completed shape. Again, a better sense of spatial perception.
So maybe girls don’t completely rule—but maybe we need more time to test. So take a look at what you’re good at and why as this National Geographic series explores all sorts of mysteries of the brain. Monday nights; National Geographic Channel, 9pm.
Now what makes men leave the toilet seat up? closet doors open? toothpaste on the sink?