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Thread: Large gender difference in navigational ability?

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.

    Large gender difference in navigational ability?



    See:
    https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/09/11...al-efficiency/

    Then why are men constantly getting lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions? :)


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    men are explorers
    they want to see with their own eyes what lays 'beyond the next hill'
    they want to experience things for themselves
    and they are less communicative than women

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    See:
    https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/09/11...al-efficiency/

    Then why are men constantly getting lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions? :)
    Navigation is on the hunter’s job requirements.....I always known this, I would like to add as well the mechanical minds that man have might be also related to traps and weapon a that hunting requires.


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    Quote Originally Posted by bicicleur View Post
    men are explorers
    they want to see with their own eyes what lays 'beyond the next hill'
    they want to experience things for themselves
    and they are less communicative than women
    Men are hunters.....their main job for thousands of years......hunting requires exploration.


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    Quote Originally Posted by blevins13 View Post
    Men are hunters.....their main job for thousands of years......hunting requires exploration.


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    I'm not so sure about this explanation. They were foragers for as long as they were hunters, and most of the foraging was done by women.

    Perhaps, though, the women, probably forced to bring along a nursing child, couldn't go that far afield.

    I suppose selection would play a hand. If a hunter couldn't figure out how to get back home, he would be more likely to die.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    See:
    https://digest.bps.org.uk/2018/09/11...al-efficiency/

    Then why are men constantly getting lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions? :)
    By experience it's almost impossible to keep concentration on the road and mental maps and at the same time try to convert the chit chat of the wife into a white noise, by that we get lost so much, driving alone we get into the place straight and without any delay.
    :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by berun View Post
    By experience it's almost impossible to keep concentration on the road and mental maps and at the same time try to convert the chit chat of the wife into a white noise, by that we get lost so much, driving alone we get into the place straight and without any delay.
    :)
    Yeah, yeah, it's always our fault. :)

    FYI: My husband is much chattier than I am: usually about the news, politics, religion, the meaning of life, you name it. It's useless talking to me about sports. I tune him out subtly when I've had too much by listening to music or books on tape on my headphones, although it does annoy him. I pay for it, though, because he's constantly getting lost. (I guess he didn't get that gene! That, or he's punishing me for tuning him out.) I will grant, however, that he's an excellent, excellent driver, a far better driver than I am.

    As for mechanical ability, he has none, and I mean NONE: zero, zilch, nada! He can't even hang pictures! His solution to everything is: hire someone. He tells me that's how capitalism works: you work hard at what you're good at, and you pay people to do what they're good at...

    You can't hire someone to take care of your electronics, however, so I connect the cable, dvd player, tv, program his Iphone, set up and periodically clean up his laptop, have to be responsible for programming the underground sprinkler, the security system, you name it. Since you also can't hire someone to put together all the toys because he has no patience, I did that too. Thanks to my dad who was a contractor and could put his hands to anything (God, how I miss him), I can do some simple things that it makes no sense to hire out for, like changing a washer, pr putting in a new hinge or hose or whatever, so long as it isn't too complicated, do some touch up painting, etc. I refuse, however, to have anything to do with the cars. I'll be damned if I'll learn how to change oil, put in new batteries, etc., so he takes the cars to the garage.

    Sometimes I do wonder if he's completely clueless about these things or if he's being furbo in this as in so much else, and it's just that he's too impatient and too lazy to do them himself, and figured out long ago that if he feigns incompetence I'll do it for him. My God, I still pack for him. I don't think he's ever packed his own suitcase!

    Ah, the mysteries of marriage, even after so many years. :)

    There, now that I've had my little rant, I feel better.

    Seriously, while certain abilities may, on average, be more prevalent in one sex than another, I'm sure the data would plot such that there are of course plenty of people who don't conform to the average.

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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    This study's findings doesn't surprise me, as from experience I do find more women, on the whole have trouble with mental mapping for navigation, than do men, (again, on the whole).

    Funnily enough, not so funny when I hear the above used as a judgmental stigmatizer, as that I am one the female outliers in this divide. I have much higher than normal navigational skills, even better than a number of men I know. I am not saying this to brag or put of any silly feminine defensiveness, by the way - just to be clear. It's simply a matter of fact.

    I have wondered why this might be and the study does go into some theories, one being the old "men are/were hunters and explorers" stand-by. Well, okay. Yeah, this might explain some residual evolutionary kind of benefit. However, I don't think it takes into account how much life has changed since the invention of the automobile and flight and how much more women have been traveling in the last 100 or so years. One might surmise, that with increased mobility women would be getting better at navigation, on the whole. Yet, if the stats are correct, this doesn't seem to be the case. I have a sister who gets lost after more than one turn and a daughter who has difficulty with maps, no matter how much I have offered to give her a map-reading diy lesson. Not to mention my late mother, who was the butt of running family jokes about how utterly useless she was directionally to get anywhere. What's the problem?

    One thing, I would guess is a cause for poor navigation ability is possibly passivity, some of which may be innate in many girls and some of course is enforced with parenting and society. I grew up when kids went outside all day, weren't checked up upon and came home when it was dinner time. In the summer, that was extended to going back out until it got dark. I explored anywhere I could, finding my way around. Not all girls did this and still many don't. I believe those early years of riding my bike all over the city, including shortcuts through fields, woods, back alleys, along train routes, through saw mills, etc. gave me an enhanced ability to navigate.

    The inverse of this, is not just "not venturing out". It also includes, not taking the lead. So, even girls who did or do go out, but are taken to places by someone else or follow specific directions without thinking about it, or follow along, are not building their own navigation repository. It's the passenger effect.

    As per your original question, Angela, I have always held that men don't ask for directions for the same reason as when you dance with a man, he leads. It is un-leader-like (unmanly) to follow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strudel View Post
    This study's findings doesn't surprise me, as from experience I do find more women, on the whole have trouble with mental mapping for navigation, than do men, (again, on the whole).

    Funnily enough, not so funny when I hear the above used as a judgmental stigmatizer, as that I am one the female outliers in this divide. I have much higher than normal navigational skills, even better than a number of men I know. I am not saying this to brag or put of any silly feminine defensiveness, by the way - just to be clear. It's simply a matter of fact.

    I have wondered why this might be and the study does go into some theories, one being the old "men are/were hunters and explorers" stand-by. Well, okay. Yeah, this might explain some residual evolutionary kind of benefit. However, I don't think it takes into account how much life has changed since the invention of the automobile and flight and how much more women have been traveling in the last 100 or so years. One might surmise, that with increased mobility women would be getting better at navigation, on the whole. Yet, if the stats are correct, this doesn't seem to be the case. I have a sister who gets lost after more than one turn and a daughter who has difficulty with maps, no matter how much I have offered to give her a map-reading diy lesson. Not to mention my late mother, who was the butt of running family jokes about how utterly useless she was directionally to get anywhere. What's the problem?

    One thing, I would guess is a cause for poor navigation ability is possibly passivity, some of which may be innate in many girls and some of course is enforced with parenting and society. I grew up when kids went outside all day, weren't checked up upon and came home when it was dinner time. In the summer, that was extended to going back out until it got dark. I explored anywhere I could, finding my way around. Not all girls did this and still many don't. I believe those early years of riding my bike all over the city, including shortcuts through fields, woods, back alleys, along train routes, through saw mills, etc. gave me an enhanced ability to navigate.

    The inverse of this, is not just "not venturing out". It also includes, not taking the lead. So, even girls who did or do go out, but are taken to places by someone else or follow specific directions without thinking about it, or follow along, are not building their own navigation repository. It's the passenger effect.

    As per your original question, Angela, I have always held that men don't ask for directions for the same reason as when you dance with a man, he leads. It is un-leader-like (unmanly) to follow.
    I know; I was just trying to be witty! :) I think it's also a control thing, or that may just be a different way of saying the same thing. My husband absolutely always has to do the driving, and he's far more controlling than I am in every aspect of life. Imo, you have to recognize that you can't control everything. It can also be counter-productive to try. Plus, you have to know your limitations as well as your strengths. The outcome is what's important. I'm not a terrific driver, for example, so it's absolutely fine with me if someone else wants to drive. Plus, I can talk or read or just dream. It does get annoying with dancing. He's just not as proficient as I am, which is fine, but sometimes I have to grit my teeth and stop from trying to lead when he's not really following the beat or the music. I shouldn't complain; he at least learned the basic steps. Plus, if I had tried to correct him all the time he would soon have stopped wanting to dance. That's what I mean by counter productive. :)

    I think navigational ability may correlate with spatial aptitude, and men do better, on average, at those parts of IQ tests. It is individual, however, and other things must affect it, since I'm very good at it and yet I'm very left brained.

    Like every other trait I would bet there's a big inherited component, but experiences do impact it as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post

    I know; I was just trying to be witty! :)
    Yes, I could tell you were joking. I only wanted to add in my penny-worth of arm chair philosophizing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post

    I think it's also a control thing, or that may just be a different way of saying the same thing. My husband absolutely always has to do the driving, and he's far more controlling than I am in every aspect of life. Imo, you have to recognize that you can't control everything. It can also be counter-productive to try. Plus, you have to know your limitations as well as your strengths. The outcome is what's important. I'm not a terrific driver, for example, so it's absolutely fine with me if someone else wants to drive. Plus, I can talk or read or just dream. It does get annoying with dancing. He's just not as proficient as I am, which is fine, but sometimes I have to grit my teeth and stop from trying to lead when he's not really following the beat or the music. I shouldn't complain; he at least learned the basic steps. Plus, if I had tried to correct him all the time he would soon have stopped wanting to dance. That's what I mean by counter productive. :)
    100% agree about the need for control as being part of stubbornly refusing directional assistance and also how too much of this is counter-productive. Being aware of our limitations is also wise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post

    I think navigational ability may correlate with spatial aptitude, and men do better, on average, at those parts of IQ tests. It is individual, however, and other things must affect it, since I'm very good at it and yet I'm very left brained.

    Like every other trait I would bet there's a big inherited component, but experiences do impact it as well.
    You're right. Visual-Spatial ability (on average higher in men) is required for navigation and so there would be a significant biological component to the differences. Also, as you have noted and is mentioned in the study, there are adjunct ways and means that people use to navigate. One example is "markers", which is moderately to fairly reliable, but not fool proof, since markers can be missed with a moment's distraction and also can move. Another, which I have not seen mentioned in the study, yet may be an important adjunct method, is motor-memory. This would be what gets you home on "auto-pilot" and only apply to those routes one is familiar with, but it still has ramifications as per not getting lost. There are people who no matter if they have driven a route a few times, still have a chore to find their way and others who can travel someplace once, a year or more passes and can replicate the trip by memory.

    One thing that mystifies me is that a core part of navigation is being able to tell which direction you are going/facing (N-S-E-W) without a compass or signage aid. Again, I am very good at this, yet notice that I am in the minority as a woman to have this ability. I look at the sky (sun position) and in the woods other things as well. If women are supposed to be more in touch with the earth, than how come many can't tell what direction they are facing? By the way, my husband who is an excellent driver (a skill that encompasses a complex variety of motor, sensory and cognitive abilities) and pretty good at getting anywhere, cannot tell you his compass direction without an instrumental aid. I think this is a distinct skill separate from other visual-spatial aptitudes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strudel View Post
    Yes, I could tell you were joking. I only wanted to add in my penny-worth of arm chair philosophizing.



    100% agree about the need for control as being part of stubbornly refusing directional assistance and also how too much of this is counter-productive. Being aware of our limitations is also wise.



    You're right. Visual-Spatial ability (on average higher in men) is required for navigation and so there would be a significant biological component to the differences. Also, as you have noted and is mentioned in the study, there are adjunct ways and means that people use to navigate. One example is "markers", which is moderately to fairly reliable, but not fool proof, since markers can be missed with a moment's distraction and also can move. Another, which I have not seen mentioned in the study, yet may be an important adjunct method, is motor-memory. This would be what gets you home on "auto-pilot" and only apply to those routes one is familiar with, but it still has ramifications as per not getting lost. There are people who no matter if they have driven a route a few times, still have a chore to find their way and others who can travel someplace once, a year or more passes and can replicate the trip by memory.

    One thing that mystifies me is that a core part of navigation is being able to tell which direction you are going/facing (N-S-E-W) without a compass or signage aid. Again, I am very good at this, yet notice that I am in the minority as a woman to have this ability. I look at the sky (sun position) and in the woods other things as well. If women are supposed to be more in touch with the earth, than how come many can't tell what direction they are facing? By the way, my husband who is an excellent driver (a skill that encompasses a complex variety of motor, sensory and cognitive abilities) and pretty good at getting anywhere, cannot tell you his compass direction without an instrumental aid. I think this is a distinct skill separate from other visual-spatial aptitudes.
    Don't you think that particular thing has to be taught to some extent? My husband doesn't know it, but he was a city kid. My earliest years were in the country, and my great uncles and aunts taught me, and phases of the moon, too, because they were very old fashioned and certain things had to be planted at certain times in the lunar cycle as well as facing south or west or whatever.

    I like to go camping too, and it's an important skill in that regard. With my children I was always very big on scouting.

    I had a terrible experience with driving on auto pilot, though. Believe it or not, I got on the New York State Thruway, which I did once a week, and was ready to get off when I realized I didn't have the ticket. I had no memory of the drive home. I was in a panic when I went to the booth. The attendant was very nice. He said they got a call that a young woman in X car and Y license plate went through without picking up a ticket. He let me get away with paying the normal toll, although I was really liable for the entire amount of the whole system. My "motor memory" got me home fine; it just didn't remember about the toll booth! Hence, as you can see, why I'm fine with letting other people drive. :)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I think navigational ability may correlate with spatial aptitude, and men do better, on average.
    A guy comes back to consciousness in hospital after a long coma. A doctor turns up and tells him he had a traffic accident in which his wife died. The doctor then asks him whether he remembers any detail of what exactly happened. Answer :
    "Last thing I remember is my wife saying 'all clear on the right' "

    (Not sure how good the translation is, but I guess you'll understand)
    It is therefore worth while to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent and moderate our persuasion. (John Locke)

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    Quote Originally Posted by hrvclv View Post
    a guy comes back to consciousness in hospital after a long coma. A doctor turns up and tells him he had a traffic accident in which his wife died. The doctor then asks him whether he remembers any detail of what exactly happened. Answer :
    "last thing i remember is my wife saying 'all clear on the right' "
    (not sure how good the translation is, but i guess you'll understand)
    lmao!!!!!!!
    mmmmmmmmm dooouuughhhnuuuutz

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    Not sure how the stereotype his, but i'm certain that it mainly have with spacial representation. I personally have a big memory, and i'm never lost. I cannot take this kind of study seriously, and if i had a woman, we probably would laugh at wich one is the less lost.

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    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    Not sure how the stereotype his, but i'm certain that it mainly have with spacial representation. I personally have a big memory, and i'm never lost. I cannot take this kind of study seriously, and if i had a woman, we probably would laugh at wich one is the less lost.
    Good attitude. :)

    Averages are just averages. People shouldn't judge other people on the basis of them. Plenty of people don't fit the stereotypes.

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    Large gender difference in navigational ability?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I'm not so sure about this explanation. They were foragers for as long as they were hunters, and most of the foraging was done by women.

    Perhaps, though, the women, probably forced to bring along a nursing child, couldn't go that far afield.

    I suppose selection would play a hand. If a hunter couldn't figure out how to get back home, he would be more likely to die.
    I am not sure if you are agreeing or disagreeing with me..... as far as I can understand from your comment hunting develops better orientation skills since you need to travel more while foraging requires less also considering that women cold not travel a lot with little children.


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    A friend (male) can't navigate his way out of wet paper bag. He has problems even driving to towns he's been to before. Constantly needs maps.

    I (as a woman), on the other hand, merely need to go to a place once & I can remember the route to get back to exact spot even if it's a year later. I rarely use maps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post


    Don't you think that particular thing has to be taught to some extent? My husband doesn't know it, but he was a city kid. My earliest years were in the country, and my great uncles and aunts taught me, and phases of the moon, too, because they were very old fashioned and certain things had to be planted at certain times in the lunar cycle as well as facing south or west or whatever.


    I like to go camping too, and it's an important skill in that regard. With my children I was always very big on scouting.


    Yes, for sure. I agree that it’s clear to have better NSEW skills, it must be taught and that those who have the benefit of this teaching will naturally be better at it than those without. Urban vs rural life is one maybe rough/ reductionist kind of delineator, as you noted. Although as a “city girl” myself who was not taught planting, lunar cycles and all that, yet still manage to know it, I don’t fit the stereotype. I noted other kinds of teaching or self-learned in my post above as having a “learned effect”. But, what I was getting at my statement which I meant initially as a thinking-out-loud rhetoric, is this:

    I do postulate that there is (a) an in-born higher skill for NSEW determination and (b) that this skill/trait is variable in people, in the same way that there is variable natural talent for example playing a musical instrument, or sports, or artistic/visual-spatial, etc.

    If this is so, it would make logical sense to me that given women’s more biological connection to the cycles, would not also women then have some connection to NSEW? If not, then there must be some other ability at play that hampers most women in this area. At any rate, just me musing…


    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post


    I had a terrible experience with driving on auto pilot, though. Believe it or not, I got on the New York State Thruway, which I did once a week, and was ready to get off when I realized I didn't have the ticket. I had no memory of the drive home. I was in a panic when I went to the booth. The attendant was very nice. He said they got a call that a young woman in X car and Y license plate went through without picking up a ticket. He let me get away with paying the normal toll, although I was really liable for the entire amount of the whole system. My "motor memory" got me home fine; it just didn't remember about the toll booth! Hence, as you can see, why I'm fine with letting other people drive. :)


    Ha :) I understand.

    This a great example of an adaptive skill (more like a combination of them) that is mostly or usually beneficial, but can turn out to be detrimental in more complex environments. Muscle memory combined with multi-tasking enables us greater productivity and staying in the flow even with competing demands on our attention or distractions. There is however a threshold and circumstances in which tuning out and getting too much in the flow aka running on auto-pilot, is hazardous.



    I think the sweet spot for muscle/motor memory as per not getting lost as it pertains to driving stays well outside the boundary of going into hazardous auto-pilot. However, it does originate with a kind of ease of not having to think it through every.single.time, the latter of which seems to be the issue for those who do possess “How do I get there, again?” challenges.




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    I think there is no difference in gender difference, we are all equal.

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