Solo status and women's spatial test performance: the role of individuation tendencies



The impact of anticipated solo status on women's spatial performance was investigated in an experimental study. The study was designed to test whether the underperformance of women entering testing situations who find themselves to be the only woman present is related to a tendency to individuate the self. Women performed a test of spatial ability under conditions of anticipated solo or non-solo status and responded to a measure of self-construal. In line with previous research, we found a disrupting solo status effect on women's performance on the spatial ability test. Most importantly, the negative effect of solo status on performance was partially mediated by individuation tendencies as reflected in a decreased predominance of the interdependent (as compared to the independent) level of the self under solo status conditions. These findings indicate that individuation tendencies play a crucial role in the process triggered in test takers under threatening performance situations. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.