Does Gender Difference Play a Significant Role in Verbal and Visuospatial Working Memory Performance?

  • Zhi Shan Chan Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
  • Mohamad Azhari Abu Bakar Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
Keywords: gender differences, verbal working memory, visuospatial working memory, cognitive functions


The present study investigates gender differences in working memory performance, both verbal and visuospatial working memory performance. Quasi-experimental research was conducted individually on 32 undergraduates at a public university in Malaysia, using a reading span task and rotation span task. The performance was based on the total number of correct recalled and the total time taken. Results showed a significant gender difference in the verbal and visuospatial working memory performance. The observation was based on the total time taken, in which males performed more rapidly than females in both tasks. In terms of accuracy, female participants recalled better than their male counterparts in the verbal task, which is consistent with numerous past studies. However, no gender difference was identified in the visuospatial task performance, based on the total number of correct recalled. The study also found that male participants did not show an advantage in visuospatial abilities, contradicting findings by past studies.


Aben, B., Stapert, S., & Blokland, A. (2012). About the distinction between working memory and short-term memory. Frontiers in Psychology, 3. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00301

Adams, A., Simmons, F., & Willis, C. (2015). Exploring relationships between working memory and writing: Individual differences associated with gender. Learning and Individual Differences, 40, 101-107. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2015.04.011

Amundsen, M. L., Garmannslund, P. E., & Stokke, H. (2014). Visual working memory-gender and age differences. European Journal of Educational Sciences, 1(3), 123-132. doi:10.19044/EJES.V1NO3A1

Atkinson, R. C., & Shiffrin, R. M. (1968). Human memory: A proposed system and its control process. Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 2, 89-195. doi: 10.1016/S0079-7421(08)60422-3

Baddeley, A. (2012). Working memory: Theories, models, and controversies. Annual Review of Psychology, 63(1), 1-29. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100422

Baddeley, A. D. (1992). Working memory. Science, 255(5044), 556-559. doi: 10.1126/science.1736359

Baer, A., Trumpeter, N. N., Weathington, B. L. (2006). Gender differences in memory recall. Modern Psychological Studies, 12(1), 11-16.

Bleidorn, W., Arslan, R. C., Denissen, J. J., Rentfrow, P. J., Gebauer, J. E., Potter, J., & Gosling, S. D. (2016). Age and gender differences in self-esteem—A cross-cultural window. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(3), 396-410. doi:10.1037/pspp0000078

Chai, W. J., Abd, Hamid. I., & Abdullah, J. M. (2018). Working memory from the psychological and neurosciences perspectives: A review. Frontiers in Psychology, 9: 401.doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00401

Conway, A. R., Kane, M. J., & Engle, R. W. (2003). Working memory capacity and its relation to general intelligence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7(12), 547-552. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2003.10.005

Cowan, N. (2008). What are the differences between long-term, short-term, and working memory? Progress in Brain Research Essence of Memory, 323-338. doi:10.1016/s0079-6123(07)00020-9

Daneman, M., & Carpenter, P. A. (1980). Individual differences in working memory and reading. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 19(4), 450-466. doi:10.1016/s0022-5371(80)90312-6

Gabriel, S., & Sridevi, G. (2016). Gender differences in short term memory and perception. International Journal of Development Research, 06(07), 8478-8480.

Hill, A. C., Laird, A. R., & Robinson, J. L. (2014). Gender differences in working memory networks: A BrainMap meta-analysis. Biological Psychology, 102, 18-29. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.06.008

Lejbak, L., Crossley, M., & Vrbancic, M. (2011). A male advantage for spatial and object but not verbal working memory using the n-back task. Brain and Cognition, 76(1), 191-196. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2010.12.002

Lenney, E., Gold, J., & Browning, C. (1983). Sex differences in self-confidence: The influence of comparison to others ability level. Sex Roles, 9(9), 925-942. doi:10.1007/bf00290054

Loprinzi, P., & Frith, E. (2018). The Role of Sex in Memory Function: Considerations and Recommendations in the Context of Exercise. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 7(6), 132. doi:10.3390/jcm7060132

Loring-Meier, S., & Halpern, D. F. (1999). Sex differences in visuospatial working memory: components of cognitive processing. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 6(3), 464-471. doi:10.3758/bf03210836

Manning, J. R., & Kahana, M. J. (2012). Interpreting semantic clustering effects in free recall. Memory, 20(5), 511-517. doi:10.1080/09658211.2012.683010

Munnelly, M. (2016). Gender differences in verbal and visual memory (Order No. 10129713). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1814218463).

Petersen, J. (2018). Gender difference in verbal performance: A meta-analysis of United States state performance assessments. Educational Psychology Review, 30(4), 1269-1281. doi:10.1007/s10648-018-9450-x

Pham, A. V., & Hasson, R. M. (2014). Verbal and visuospatial working memory as predictors of children's reading ability. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 29(5), 467-477. doi:10.1093/arclin/acu024

Raghubar, K. P., Barnes, M. A., & Hecht, S. A. (2010). Working memory and mathematics: A review of developmental, individual difference, and cognitive approaches. Learning and Individual Differences, 20(2), 110-122. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2009.10.005

Robert, M., & Savoie, N. (2006). Are there gender differences in verbal and visuospatial working-memory resources? European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 18(3), 378-397. doi:10.1080/09541440500234104

Shah, P., & Miyake, A. (1996). The separability of working memory resources for spatial thinking and language processing: an individual differences approach. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 125(1), 4-27. doi: 10.1037//0096-3445.125.1.4

Tasnimi, M. (2017). Short term memory vs working memory. International Journal of English, Literature and Social Science (IJELS), 2(1), 38-40.

Torres, A., Gomez-Gil, E., Vidal, A., Puig, O., Boget, T., & Salamero, M. (2006). Gender differences in cognitive functions and influence of sex hormones. Actas Esp Psiquiatr, 34(6), 408-415.

Upadhayay, N., & Guragain, S. (2014). Comparison of cognitive functions between male and female medical students: A pilot study. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research. doi:10.7860/jcdr/2014/7490.4449

Zaidi, Z. F. (2010). Gender differences in human brain: A review. The Open Anatomy Journal, 2, 37-55. doi:10.2174/1877609401002010037

How to Cite
Chan , Z. S., & Abu Bakar, M. A. (2021). Does Gender Difference Play a Significant Role in Verbal and Visuospatial Working Memory Performance? . Journal of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development, 7(2), 80-90.