ABSTRACT The performance of males and females were compared to assess which one of the sexes has more hold on their cognitive process in the case of modality

The performance of males and females were compared to assess which one of the sexes has more hold on their cognitive process in the case of modality (group). 210 participants were randomly subjected to 3 groups each with a different type of modality (group). Control group were exposed to a single item task where they were asked to learn 25 words which was later randomly mixed with homophones. The participants were asked to identify which ones were in the original study list. The second group, experimental group 1 was tasked with listening comprehension. The participants went through a across modality task where they were asked to study 25 words whilst also listening to an audio version of a passage from ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achibe. Later on, they were asked to answer questions on the audio passage then recall the 25 words they studied. The third group, experimental group 2, were tasked with reading fluency. They went through the within modality task where they were asked to study the 25 word list and were also exposed to simple Yes and No trivia questions which was displayed side by side with the words. They were later instructed to answer the questions then recall the study list. Performance of the females was significantly greater than the males in both the single item task and the reading fluency task but performance of the males was significantly better than that of the females in the listening comprehension task. The group with the highest level of performance was the control group.
It is believed that males have more hold on their spatial navigation than females which is as a result of pre-historical influences. In a division of psychology, it is understandable how that is possible, but cognitive psychology seeks to find out how exactly that is possible and what proves it is a fact. Cognitive psychology deals with the working of the human brain and the mind. We strive to understand the concept of memory and attention. In these sectors, we aim to discover the effects
of sensory modality (group) and sex differences on divided attention tasks. But is it true males can handle the processing of two or more sensory tasks than females or is it the other way around?
There have been studies on aging and divided attention; dual tasks effects with theories like the processing resources hypothesis which proposes that with increase in age comes a decline in the amount of available processing resources; amount of attention one has to apply to a particular situation. Other studies in this field deal with the processing of different modalities, their effect of the stages of memory and the verifications of the theories of memory.
Wright (1981) investigated ‘the performance of young and old adults in two different situations, to investigate the reasons why the latter are especially poor at divided attention tasks.’ he used two differents experiments where on had a single task and the other a time sharing task. The task difficulty was manipulated in an identical fashion in both experiments. His finding was that as task difficulty increases both age groups performed badly but with the rate of decline being higher for older adults.
McLeod (1977) investigated the support of the multiprocessor models of attention in relation to dual task response modality (group) effect. He also conducted two experiments where on group ‘performed a continuous visual input/ manual output task simultaneously with a two-choice tone identification task’ and the other the same task but challenged with a mentally tasking arithmetic task at two levels of difficulty. His conclusion what that with the first group the continuous task was significantly worse when the two-choice responses were manual and for the second group, the tracking performance was separate from the arithmetic task which resulted in the support of the multiprocessor approach to attention. An experiment by Morena and Mayer with students on the modality (group) effect on learning using multimedia channels. They discover that learning takes place better when ‘verbal input was presented auditorily as speech rather than visually as text’ which places auditory over iconic modality (group) effect on learning and retention. These studies failed to consider the role of gender in their experiments.

It was discovered that because of the prehistoric theory that males are dominant than females it was assumed that they would in every sector. Sex difference or gender seems to be the navigating and evaluating tool in judging sensory process. Most believe that males are superior in everything and so it must reign across all fields. This experiment investigates the position in which sex differences; male and female, stands in the capability of withstanding the processing of two or more sensory modalities. Also, it is to examine divided attention within and across modalities. modality (group) here is the particular format or mode in which a stimulus is presented.
Divided attention is when an individual’s cognitive processes is divided or concentrated on processing tow or more stimuli. It can also be understood as dual-tasks. That is, how the human cognitive function works when bombarded with visual and auditory tasks. An auditory mode task is any activity that is presented to stimulate the auditory senses. It is the activity or event that can be perceived by hearing. Visual mode tasks are activities that can be perceived by sight and stimulates the visual senses. The experiment follows the design of the Independent group experiment which is performed by three groups; the control group and experimental group one and two.
It was predicted that females would perform significantly better in listening comprehension tasks; across modality than males, performance in the single task group will be better than across modality dual task group, females will perform significantly better than males in the reading fluency task group (EG2) and performance in the reading fluency tasks will be significantly better than that of the listening comprehension task. It is also pre-affirmed that there will be interaction between sex and modality (group) on performance. The experiments covers both sexes which makes it easier to draw factual conclusions.
The study follows the independent group experiment, a between participant design. The independent variables in this experiment is the modality (group) administered in different types ; visual and auditory and the dependent variables is the number of correct responses and recall. The experiment contains three groups; the control group and two experimental groups. The control group was presented with 25 words to study then mixed randomly with 25 homophones. The first experimental group were presented with 25 words then also listened to an audio passage while studying the list of words. The last group, the second experimental group was also presented with a list of 25 words to study then they were exposed to 25 simple common trivia yes and no questions as they studied the words. The significant threshold was set at .05.
The participants were selected from the population of the final year undergraduate psychology students of University Of Ghana in both Legon Campus and Accra City Campus. 210 students were selected randomly resulting in 123 females and 87 males, with 70 students in each of the three groups.
A laptop with the Microsoft Powerpoint software was used. The words used are common words the participants are familiar with to aid easy recall on normal basis. The passage for the audio presentation was also taken from a book used in senior high schools, ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achibe. The yes and no questions are trivia question that are part of daily trivia information.
A 25 English words study list was presented to each group to study for the experiment but each group has a different activity that goes with the study list. The control group (single task group) was instructed to determine the words studied after 25 homophones where added to the original study list (visual mode). They were to determine which of the words were part of the original study list and which were homonyms after mentioning each word that was displayed; that is responding yes or no to the 50 words displayed. The experimental group 1 (EG 1) were challenged with a listening comprehension task where they had to listen to auditory version of a passage taken from the book ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achibe (auditory mode) whilst studying the 25 English words study list (visual mode). Afterwards, there were asked to answer ten questions on the audio passage then recall the 25 words studied in the original word list out of the 50 combination of the original and homophone words. The second experimental group (EG 2) were tasked with studying the 25 English words study list and were also exposed to another 25 simple yes or no questions (second visual mode task) at the same time. Later they were asked to answer the questions then recall the study list. In experiment group 1 and 2, the format was quite similar to the Brown-Peterson experiment conducted to prove the existence of the Short Term Memory (STM). they both contained a RPT; Rehearsal Prevention Tests. For EG 1 , it was the audio passage and for EG 2 it was the simple yes or no questions.
The control group was tasked with a single task condition with a single modality (group), EG1 was tasked with the Listening comprehension task which was done across modalities; two modalities and EG 2 was tasked with reading fluency task which was done within modality; one modality (group) in two forms. All visual mode tasks were displayed by projection with the Microsoft Powerpoint software.
For scoring, the interval between stimulus presentation was one word per second and recall was one word per two seconds. For all the groups, 25 correct responses was the maximum score. This was obtained from the correct responses given by the participants.

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modality (group)
Std. Deviation
Std. Deviation
Std. Deviation
Control Group



The table above shows the sample sizes for each group which falls in a range of 25 through to 45 stating the they are adequately equal. Six means are shown as a results of 2 sex*3 modalities.

Table 1.2: Two-Way ANOVA
Type III Sum of Squares
Mean Square
Partial Eta Squared
Corrected Model
modality (group)
Sex * modality (group)


Corrected Total

a. R Squared = .295 (Adjusted R Squared = .278)

Based on table 1.1, a two-way ANOVA chart is produced. With an alpha (?) of 0.05, interaction effect is not statistically significant as the p-value (0.063) is greater than the alpha level (0.05). Interaction effect here, is the effect of sex being dependant on that of modality (group). To be accurate, we run simple effects and a profile plots. Main effect for sex is not statistically significant as compared to modality (group) which is.

Table 1.3: Multiple Comparisons
(I) modality (group)
(J) modality (group)
Mean Difference (I-J)
Std. Error
95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound
Upper Bound
Control Group
Control Group
Control Group
Based on observed means.
The error term is Mean Square(Error) = 16.832.

*. The mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level.

With the table above conclusions can be drawn as it compares each group against each of the others. With an alpha level of 0.05, the single task group has a significant difference in performance than listening comprehension group . The reading fluency task group has a significant performance level than listening comprehension group.

The graph drawn from the means table, shows the effect sex and modality (group) have on the mean scores. With the plots not running parallel to each other, it can be concluded that the effect of modality (group) interacts with gender. That is, modality (group) affect females differently than males. Since the graph is based on the sex variable, there is no representation of the effect of modality (group). With ‘Estimated Marginal Means’ representing the ‘Average Number of Responses’ and ‘modality (group)’ representing ‘Channel modality (group)’, it is shown that female performance is slightly higher than male performance in the control group, significantly lower than that of the males in the experimental group 1 and significantly better than males in experimental group 2. With this, it can be safe to say that females performed better than males in single task and reading fluency tasks whiles males performed better than females in listening comprehension tasks.

In conclusion, the profile plots and the simple effects tables (refer to tables 2.1 and 2.2 in Appendix) prove that there is interaction effect. The null hypothesis drawn as there being no interaction between gender and modality (group) on performance is rejected. This one- tailed experiment with 210 participants, it was proven that there was interaction between sex and modality (group) on performance retaining our main hypothesis.
The experiment proved the initial theory that males are dominant in all fields, false. This is proven with statistical inference. After running the simple effect for both male and females (table 2.1 and 2.2 in Appendix), it is observed that, the mean for the performance was affected by the group (modality (group)), F (2, 120) = 28.9. p = .001 with a partial eta squared of .325 for females and for males, F (2, 84) = 13.35 p = .001 and a partial eta squared of .241. The partial eta squared is the measure of the effect size which is larger for females than males. This explains that modality (group) has a strong effect of female performance than males. From table 1.3, it is shown that the control group has a significant difference in performance than experimental group 1. The experimental group 2 has a significant performance level than experimental group 1. This explains that, performance in the control group is better than that in EG 1 which is the listening comprehension task with across modality. The performance of EG 2; which is the within modality group is better than the EG 1.
With comparison to sex, the females performed better than the males in the within modality task and the single task group but the performance of males in the across modality task was significantly higher than the females. This affirms the male dominance does not cut across all fields. This also disapproves the hypothesis that females would perform better than males in listening comprehension tasks since the differential mean is greater in favor of males. The listening comprehension task has an inverse relationship with both single rask and reading fluency task. Further experiments should be considered with a more wider confidence level and ensure that participants are not already familiar with the across modality as some students like to study with music. Also, the audio passage used should be one that has not been prescribed form any educational level.
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Moreno, R., ; Mayer, R. E. (1999). Cognitive principles of multimedia learning: The role of modality (group) and contiguity. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(2), 358-368.
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Mozolic J. L., Long B. A., et al (2011). A cognitive training intervention improves modality (group)-specific attention in a randomized controlled trial of healthy older adults. Neurobiology of Aging. 32(4), 655-668.
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SPSS Two-Way ANOVA with Interaction Tutorial. SPSS Tutorials.
Acessed 21st November, 2018

SPSS Two-Way ANOVA with Interaction Tutorial

Wright, R. E.,(1981) Divided Attention, and Processing Capacity. Journal of Gerontology, 36(5), 605–614. Oxford University Press, USA.
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Wickens D. C., (2010). Multiple resources and performance prediction. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science 3(2), 159-177, 2002. Taylor And Francis Online.
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