Study Says That Men Have The Better Sense Of Direction

The idea that men have a better sense of direction than women is one of the oldest gender cliches. But new research suggests that men really might employ better navigational strategies than women.

Previous studies — including many decades-old experiments on rats in mazeshave shown that men tend to outperform women on tasks requiring spatial awareness and way-finding. Now, the new findings offer a glimpse into why this is the case.

In a new study currently under review, neuroscientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, asked 18 male and 18 female participants to use 3D goggles and a joystick for one hour to orient themselves in a virtual maze game. Then, they were given 30 seconds for each of 45 various navigational tasks (for instance, finding a yellow car from different starting points). Meanwhile, the researchers measured their brain activity using fMRI.

“Men’s sense of direction was more effective,” Carl Pintzka, a Ph.D candidate in neuroscience at the university and the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “They quite simply got to their destination faster.”

The researchers found that men used cardinal directions more in their navigation. That means that men tended to use a “world-centered strategy,” going in the general direction of where something was located.

“World-centered strategy means the use of a cognitive map and cardinal directions to find your way,” Pintzka told The Huffington Post in an email. “Women on the other hand used a more egocentric strategy (self-centered), which means they relied more on a route of landmarks to get to the target.”

The world-centered strategy, which the men used, is more flexible since having a sense of direction is less dependent on the starting point. It’s likely that this is why the men ended up completing 50 —> Read More