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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 340568, 7 pages
Research Article

Reliabilities of Mental Rotation Tasks: Limits to the Assessment of Individual Differences

1German Paediatric Pain Centre, Children’s Hospital Datteln, Dr. Friedrich-Steiner Street 5, 45711 Datteln, Germany
2Department of Children’s Pain Therapy and Paediatric Palliative Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Alfred Herrhausen-Straße 50, 58448 Witten, Germany
3Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Fliednerstr. 21, 48149 Münster, Germany

Received 9 April 2013; Revised 13 August 2013; Accepted 27 August 2013

Academic Editor: Alessandro Sale

Copyright © 2013 Gerrit Hirschfeld et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mental rotation tasks with objects and body parts as targets are widely used in cognitive neuropsychology. Even though these tasks are well established to study between-groups differences, the reliability on an individual level is largely unknown. We present a systematic study on the internal consistency and test-retest reliability of individual differences in mental rotation tasks comparing different target types and orders of presentations. In total participants ( for the retest) completed the mental rotation tasks with hands, feet, faces, and cars as targets. Different target types were presented in either randomly mixed blocks or blocks of homogeneous targets. Across all target types, the consistency (split-half reliability) and stability (test-retest reliabilities) were good or acceptable both for intercepts and slopes. At the level of individual targets, only intercepts showed acceptable reliabilities. Blocked presentations resulted in significantly faster and numerically more consistent and stable responses. Mental rotation tasks—especially in blocked variants—can be used to reliably assess individual differences in global processing speed. However, the assessment of the theoretically important slope parameter for individual targets requires further adaptations to mental rotation tests.