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Brain Cogn. 2003 Nov;53(2):297-300.

Males and females scan maps similarly, but give directions differently.

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Department of Psychology, University of Saskatchewan, Sask., Saskatoon, Canada.


After studying routes on a map, females tend to give directions that feature landmarks and left/right turns, whereas males include more cardinal and distance information. It is plausible this difference results from disparate attention to these features during exploration of a map. In the present study, 22 males and 22 females learned routes on a map while their eye movements were monitored, and then gave written directions between different locations. Consistent with earlier research, males made more references to NSEW when giving directions, whereas females referred mainly to left/right turns and landmarks along each route. However, these reporting biases were not related to differences in how the groups explored the maps, as females did not spend more time looking at landmarks, nor did either group spend more time looking at Euclidean cues. Thus, despite sexually dimorphic route descriptions, there was not dimorphic exploration or attention to the salient features.

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