Common tests of spatial skills do not simply test one’s ability to mentally manipulate shapes. Instead, many popular assessments depend on a separate ability to comprehend two-dimensional graphical depictions of three-dimensional objects. Two categories of evidence are presented: 1) a discussion of the visual problems present in the stimuli commonly used in spatial skills tests, and 2) a critical review of studies which have shown improved performance on spatial skills tests by making the stimuli either clearer or more realistic. We conclude that the graphical interpretation factor is likely an example of construct-irrelevant variance which may reduce the validity of spatial skills assessments and introduce bias in favor of individuals with past experience with a particular style of engineering graphics or individuals who leverage certain problem-solving strategies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was not supported by outside funding.
© 2021 Taylor & Francis.
- mental rotation
- spatial ability test
- Spatial skills
- visual perception
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Modeling and Simulation
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design