There are clearly differences in the way men and women think. Many studies show that neurons are packed closer together in women’s brain, and according to psychologist Sandra Witelson, this may be one reason why women are better at language and communication skills than men (Edmonds, 2003). But are there also differences in the way men and women perceive things? Are women faster at noticing change? Or do they pay more attention to visual details? If yes, then shouldn’t systems be designed to pertain to this issue-especially when it comes to safety, for example, noticing a new forthcoming lane on an old road, or a new stop sign on an old intersection?
In his 2002 review, Ronald A. Rensink, divides the study of change detection into three phases (Rensink, 2002). The first phase, from mid-1950s to mid-1960s, investigates change detection when change occurs in a saccade. Whilst change detection was considered an easy task at the time, the studies showed poor results proving that detection is not a simple task after all. In the second phase he combines the studies on limits of detection of gap contingent changes with those on visual integration as a basis of limited capacity visual short-term memory. And finally, in the third phase, Rensink emphasizes the idea that change detection involves mechanisms central to the way humans perceive the world.
While Rensink’s work is a great demonstration of how complicated the task of change detection is, and how it relies on many factors such as memory and perception, it does not take into consideration the difference in size and structure between the male and the female brain and how visual information is processed in each.
The focus of this study is on basic visual processing in the male and the female brain. The focus here is not only on which gender detects change more accurately, but also on how fast visual change is detected. Three sets of data will be collected from participants:
1. A computerized Change Detection test to measure accuracy of detecting change.
2. A Spatial Cueing test for measuring reaction time to visual change.
3. A questionnaire to be filled by participants to measure attentiveness of each individual to detail.
Our judgment as to which gender performed better will be based not only on accuracy but also on the rate at which change is detected and attentiveness to detail. If the findings show a distinction between the two genders, then shouldn’t we, as future engineers and/or businessmen be focused on releasing products and services that adhere to both genders?
Participants. Twelve participants completed all conditions of this study: six were male and six were female. Ages ranged from 19 to 21 years old. Participants were all picked at random from Industrial Engineering undergraduate students at the University of Toronto who took part in return for course credit. All participants were naïve to the purpose of the experiment.