Thursday, May 31, 2007

[map reading] some can, some can't

[Research] from the University of Warwick suggests that not only are straight women worse at map reading than straight males, they are also outperformed by bisexual men, gay men, gay women and bisexual women - in that order. The study looked at what's called mental rotation. This is our ability to mentally visualise an object from different perspectives.

Applied to real life, the most practical example of mental rotation is map reading, says Dr Michael Tlauka, an expert in gender differences and spatial ability from Flinders University. "This is one mental task where studies have shown that men consistently outperform women. It's not a myth at all - map reading and spatial skills in general, you'll find that men outperform women."

Well, I have two comments. Firstly, give me a heterosexual woman any day and I care not what she can and can't do. Secondly, I'm not so hot myself.

Sure I can follow a map without problems and without a map can usually find a way to a given place by some sort of radar but if I try to return - I'm lost. I lose all orientation.

I did this with four groups of girls last week, asking each to direct me from Home at the bottom of the map to the Shopping Centre at the top. Results were mixed. Certainly some girls weren't too bad but the majority confirmed the study above.

Interesting. Further reading here.

6 comments:

jmb said...

Well luckily these days any woman who can't read a map ( which I am very good at, thank you very much)can buy herself one of those GPS things to carry with her.

Wolfie said...

My reaction to that research is that its probably related to hormone levels, particularly oestrogen.
Many years ago I dated a woman who had hormone problems which required her to take medication in order for her periods to remain regular and she was an excellent map-reader, the only woman I ever knew who was any good at it.
Anyway, who needs a woman to read a map - she can just get her partner to do it. Division of labour according to ability in a relationship is easy enough to manage.
My wife is an excellent linguist. When we are touring in Europe I read the map, maintain the bike, erect the tent etc. She negotiates with the locals and charms the birds from the trees.
That's what I call teamwork.

Liz said...

I can't read maps. Now why doesn't that surprise you?

I can get by if they're the same way up as the road and if I'm not distracted by passing trees, shops, dogs, conkers, thoughts.

james higham said...

...I can get by if they're the same way up as the road...

That's what the girls were saying today.

JMB, Wolfie, I thnk that's most probably it. One girl today had a go at it and immediately sent me left and then said, "No, no, left," as I was going left. But it was another girl who said to her, 'You're pointing right'. So I don't know about this thing. She'd a very bright girl and can run rings around you in an argument.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

V strange about sezual orientation affecting it! Well, as i've said before, I regard maps like instructions for appliances - they are to be read as a last resort! I'm pretty good at finding my way round without maps, really and in Britain I would refer to locations as "Marks & Spencer street" or "The hospital street" - and that's what people do here all the time! They hardly ever refer to a street's actual name.

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