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The factorial structure of spatial abilities in Russian and Chinese students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Maxim V. Likhanov, Victoria I. Ismatullina, Alexander Y. Fenin, Wei Wei, Kaili Rimfeld, Ekaterina P. Maslennikova, Elena A. Esipenko, Ksenia R. Sharafieva, Inna V. Feklicheva, Nadezhda A. Chipeeva, Anna V. Budakova, Elena L. Soldatova, Xinlin Zhou, Yulia V. Kovas

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-114
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology in Russia: State of the Art
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

King's Authors


Background. Recent research has suggested a unifactorial structure of spatial ability (SA). However, further studies are needed to replicate this finding in different populations. Objective. This study aims to explore the factorial structure of SA in samples of 921 Russian and 229 Chinese university students. Design. A gamified spatial abilities battery was administered to all participants. The battery consists of 10 different domains of SA, including 2D and 3D visualization, mental rotation, spatial pattern assembly, spatial relations, spatial planning, mechanical reasoning, spatial orientation, and spatial decision-making speed and flexibility. Results. The results of the factor analysis showed a somewhat different pattern for different samples. In the Russian sample, the unifactorial structure, shown previously in a large UK sample (Rimfeld et al., 2017), was replicated. A single factor explained 40% of the variance. In the Chinese sample two factors emerged: the first factor explained 26% of the variance and the second factor, including only mechanical reasoning and cross-sections tests, explained 14%. The results also showed that the Chinese sample significantly outperformed the Russian sample in five out of the 10 tests. Russian students showed better performance in only two of the tests. The effects of all group comparisons were small.Conclusion. Overall, a similar amount of variance in the 10 tests was explained in the two samples, replicating results from the UK sample. Future research is needed to explain the observed differences in the structure of SA.

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