Men and women are equally good at competitive computer games, it has emerged.
Researchers at Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, at the Univesity of Limerick, found that men had no advantage.
Men are not better than women at spatial cognition, such as map reading, and while both sexes approach the task differently, they get the same result.
Mark Campbell and Adam Toth used eye-tracking technology to show both sexes have equal spatial-cognition skills.
While men and women spent the same amount of time completing the tests, women used different gaze strategies to get the correct answer.
Dr Toth said spatial cognition involves not one, but many specific abilities, including locating points in space and determining the orientation of lines and objects.
Spatial ability is the capacity to understand, reason, and remember the spatial relations among objects or space.
Mental rotation, on the other hand, is the mental ability to manipulate and rotate two-dimensional or three-dimensional objects in space quickly and accurately.
The researchers found there was no male advantage in mental-rotation abilities associated with spatial-cognition competences.
Dr Toth said their research, published in Nature Scientific Reports, disproves the belief that males had a performance advantage.
“Now, we are starting to find that the difference that was reported being there back in the 1970s is not necessarily the case,” Dr Toth said.
“Some of the stereotypical differences previously thought to have existed might not be there at all.”
Dr Toth said esport — computer games played against other people on the internet — could be the first sport with males and females playing on a level field.
“It is a step in that direction, because, like chess, there is a very large cognitive demand in esports,” said Dr Toth.
One hundred UL undergraduate and postgraduate level psychology and sports science students, whose average age was 23, took part in the test.