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The role of attentional resources in explaining sex differences in object location memory


  • Efrat Barel

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, The Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Israel
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Efrat Barel, Department of Psychology, The Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, 1930000, Israel. (E-mail:

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  • The study was approved by the institutional review boards (IRBs) of the Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel. “All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.” “Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.” The present manuscript has not been previously published or simultaneously submitted elsewhere.


Sex differences in object location memory have been widely studied, with mixed results. The role of attention in mediating the female advantage in object location memory has not been clearly understood yet. Two experiments, involving 181 participants and using an actual object array, were conducted in the present study to examine two learning conditions: incidental and intentional. In each experiment, participants were randomly assigned to divided versus full attention conditions. The study also examined memorizing location-maintained and location-exchanged objects. In both experiments, in both incidental and intentional learning conditions, women outperformed men in memorizing location-exchanged objects in the full but not in the divided attention condition. These findings confirm and extend previous ones concerning the conditions under which the female advantage in the detection of change in an array of objects occurs. The findings are discussed within an evolutionary conceptual framework.