Cognitive Processing

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 197–199 | Cite as

Elimination of sex difference in direction giving

  • Xiaoang WanEmail author
  • Nora S. Newcombe
  • Shannon Fitzhugh
Short Report


Past studies have shown that men provide more cardinal information and mileage estimates than women when describing routes learned from maps. In the current study, we examined whether this sex difference would persist if more legends were added to the maps. The participants looked at maps for 3 min and then wrote down directions from memory. Their usage of cardinal directions, mileage estimates, landmarks, and left–right directions was coded and analyzed. The results showed that men and women used cardinal directions equally for the 4-legend maps, whereas men used more cardinal directions than women for 1-legend maps as shown previously. Our results suggested that subtly drawing attention to cardinal directions successfully eliminated the sex difference in usage, although a different pattern was seen for mileage estimates. The underlying mechanisms are discussed.


Sex difference Map learning Cardinal directions 



This work was supported by the NSF grant SBE-0541957 to the Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC) and SRF for ROCS from SEM to X. Wan. Some of the data were presented at the 68th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development in Denver, CO, USA.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoang Wan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nora S. Newcombe
    • 2
  • Shannon Fitzhugh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, School of Social SciencesTsinghua UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Temple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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