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Geographical Cues and Developmental Exposure

Navigational Style, Wayfinding Anxiety, and Childhood Experience in the Faroe Islands

Abstract

The current study assessed potential relationships among childhood wayfinding experience, navigational style, and adult wayfinding anxiety in the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are of interest because they have an unusual geography that may promote the use of an orientational style of navigation (e.g., use of cardinal directions). Faroese adults completed questionnaires assessing (1) their permitted childhood range sizes, (2) the types of navigational strategies they use, and (3) the amount of anxiety they experience when navigating in adulthood. Males had more childhood wayfinding experience, used the orientation strategy at a higher rate, and showed lower levels of wayfinding anxiety. When compared with other cultures, both Faroese women and men appear to embrace orientation strategies at an unusually high rate. Childhood experience was not conclusively linked to later wayfinding anxiety. However, the current findings raise the possibility that children who have particularly small ranges in childhood may be especially anxious when navigating in adulthood.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    By asking about what children were allowed to do, the current study addressed the specific question of parental permissiveness. However, the phrasing left open the possibility that children might have roamed much further without permission. This intriguing possibility is worth exploring further; however, previous research suggests that, in childhood, permitted ranges are very similar to total ranges (Herman et al. 1987). See also Hart 1979 for related sex differences.

  2. 2.

    Lawton and Kallai’s sample consisted of 423 Americans (274 female) and 263 Hungarians (140 female). The original data were not available for direct statistical comparison. Therefore, comparisons are based only on the publicly available means and standard deviations.

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Acknowledgments

I thank the Spatial Cognition and Navigation Project for their funding (National Science Foundation IBSS 1329091), my local contact Eiler Fagraklett for his assistance with data collection, and Luke Ayers for his technical support.

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Correspondence to Mariah G. Schug.

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Schug, M.G. Geographical Cues and Developmental Exposure. Hum Nat 27, 68–81 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-015-9245-4

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Keywords

  • Navigational style
  • Parental permissiveness
  • Restrictive parenting
  • Spatial anxiety
  • Spatial cognition