Gender differences in choice reaction time: evidence for differential strategies

Ergonomics. 1999 Feb;42(2):327-35. doi: 10.1080/001401399185685.


This study considered the hypothesis that on some tasks men and women might employ different information processing strategies. Twelve male and 12 female participants performed a 2- and 4-choice, compatible and incompatible, choice reaction time task that required a verbal response to a spatial location target stimulus. Results demonstrated a near-significant overall reaction time advantage for male participants. Moreover, males and females showed a differential pattern of reaction time as a function of stimulus location. Specifically, in the 4-choice-compatible condition, females exhibited a linear increase in reaction time as a function of the left-right dimension; males, on the other hand, showed a two-component, step-like increase. It was suggested that this gender difference in reaction time performance may reflect differences in processing strategy. Specifically, it was argued that in the present task females may have employed a serial, left-to-right, processing strategy, and males a binary, split-half (dichotomizing) strategy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Processes*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Sex Factors
  • Task Performance and Analysis*