Sex Roles

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 321-337

First online:

Gender and Regional Differences in Spatial Referents Used in Direction Giving

  • Carol A. LawtonAffiliated withIndiana–Purdue University Fort Wayne Email author 

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This study examined gender and regional differences in spatial referents used in giving route directions. In response to an Internet survey, participants (primarily white and highly educated) provided samples of route directions to a target destination in their home area. Only directions from those living in the United States were analyzed. Women referred more often than men to buildings as landmarks, whereas men referred more often than women to cardinal directions. Both women and men referred more often to cardinal directions if they reported that they lived in the Midwest/West than in the Northeast/South, or if they lived in areas where the roads were arranged in a gridlike pattern. The findings suggest that women and men differ in the type of spatial referents they use in giving directions, but that direction giving in both genders is affected by the environment in which they live.