DETROIT -

Apparently sex does matter. According to an analysis Vanderbilt psychologists, women are better than men at recognizing living things and men are better than women at recognizing vehicles.

The results were published online in the Vision Research journal in an article titled, "The Vanderbilt Expertise Test Reveals Domain-General and Domain-Specific Sex Effects in Object Recognition."

"Our motivation was to assess the role that expertise plays in object recognition with a new test that includes many different categories, so we weren't looking for this result," said Professor of Psychology Isabel Gauthier. She directs the lab where post-doctoral fellow Rankin McGugin conducted the study.

Gauthier said, "Everyone is born with a general ability to recognize objects and the capability to get really good at it. Nearly everyone becomes expert at recognizing faces, because of their importance for social interactions. Most people also develop expertise for recognizing other types of objects due to their jobs, hobbies or interests. Our culture influences which categories we become interested in, which explains the differences between men and women."

It took the multi-category analysis to reveal that face recognition abilities are correlated to the ability to recognize different object categories for men and women. For example, men who are better at recognizing vehicles also tend to be better at recognizing faces, while women who are better at recognizing living things tend to be better at recognizing faces