The evolution of sex differences in spatial ability

Catherine M. Jones, Victoria A. Braithwaite, Susan D. Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

148 Scopus citations


It is widely believed that male mammals have better spatial ability than females. A large number of evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain these differences, but few species have been tested. The authors critically review the proposed evolutionary explanations for sex differences in spatial cognition and conclude that most of the hypotheses are either logically flawed or, as yet, have no substantial support. Few of the data exclusively support or exclude any current hypotheses. The hypothesis with the strongest support proposes that range size was the selection pressure that acted to increase spatial ability. The authors suggest ways in which these hypotheses could be tested by presenting explicit predictions and suggesting suitable test species or conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-411
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Neuroscience
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Jones, C. M., Braithwaite, V. A., & Healy, S. D. (2003). The evolution of sex differences in spatial ability. Behavioral Neuroscience, 117(3), 403-411.