, Volume 30, Issue 11-12, pp 765-779

Gender differences in way-finding strategies: Relationship to spatial ability and spatial anxiety

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Differences between women and men in the self-reported use of two different way-finding strategies were examined in a sample of primarily white middle to lower middle class college undergraduates. Women were more likely to report using a route strategy (attending to instructions on how to get from place to place), whereas men were more likely to report using an orientation strategy (maintaining a sense of their own position in relation to environmental reference points). Women also reported higher levels of spatial anxiety, or anxiety about environmental navigation, than did men. The orientation strategy was found to be positively correlated with spatial perception ability and negatively correlated with spatial anxiety.

The author wishes to thank Julie Huber, Twyla Kendrick, Stephanie McIntosh, and Kelly Smarsh for their assistance in collecting the data. The author also gratefully acknowledges the many helpful suggestions of Craig A. Hill and Elaine Blakemore, and the comments of two anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of the manuscript. Portions of this research were presented at the Fifth Annual Convention of the American Psychological Society, Chicago, IL (June 1993).