Why women are worse at orienteering: the reason will surprise you
Men are said to have better navigational skills, while women often find it difficult to navigate in space. Previously, scientists assumed that this ability was due to evolutionary development, but recently they have determined that upbringing also has a significant impact.
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said that although historically men have had to travel more to provide for their families, the ability to navigate in space cannot be explained by the need to go hunting alone. If this were the case, the genetic trait would be passed on to female children. Details of the study were reported by the Daily Mail.
Justin Rhodes, a professor at the University of Illinois and co-author of the study, emphasized: "The tendency for males to perform slightly better in spatial orientation than females, even in the animal kingdom, is likely a side effect of sex hormones."
This is primarily the effect of testosterone.
Scientists have studied 21 species of living beings, including humans, to determine the source of orientation abilities. The list of subjects included, for example, crayfish, frogs, chimpanzees, pandas, and horses.
Rhodes and his team first reviewed data from previous studies dating back to 1960 to determine if there was a gender gap in the relationship between a species' home range and spatial opportunity. They observed how far the subjects regularly strayed from their base and followed the habits of different species over a long period of time.
Data on individuals were collected using virtual or real mazes, measuring how long it took to move through a new environment to a specific location, or determining how well participants could point to a location out of sight.
The scientists found that females of only two species in the study had larger home ranges. The crayfish was the only species that did not show a sex difference in spatial ability, and the poisonous diablite frog showed a slight male advantage.
The results showed that males do have a significant advantage in spatial orientation skills.
"Sex differences in behavior or performance may arise from biological or cultural processes that have little to do with evolution," the study says.
Future testing will focus on how socialization and culture influence navigation roles, rather than focusing on evolutionary theory.
Additional research should determine how to improve these skills in people of both sexes.