Directional Signs and How Gender Plays a Role in How People Find Their Way Around


Did you know that how you find your way around places is actually somewhat dependent on whether you are a girl or a boy? You might think that gender is not really relevant when it comes to how people look at directional signs and how they find their way, but in reality, it is. How a man and a woman finds their way around, and how they use certain wayfinding tools to do so, does differ in so many ways.

We are not saying that men are better at finding their way around or that women are better at locating certain places. What we are saying is that how they get to these places may be rather different. How they approach wayfinding and what tools best work for them in terms of locating shops, buildings, addresses and the like, is different for either gender.

Research shows that men are more likely to find what they are looking for with the help of a compass and a map in comparison with women. They have also been found to be faster at locating certain hidden items in a computer-simulated maze than women. This has something to do with spatial ability and how each gender approaches the task of finding locations.

It has been found that while men are more inclined to use global reference points to find what they are looking for, women are more likely to use route information and landmarks to get to where they want to go. These same preferences are seen in how both genders tend to give directions to others. When men are asked for directions, they tend to use the cardinal directions such as North, South, East and West or to turn left, right, go forward, etc. When women are asked for directions, they are likely to point out landmarks as they tell a person how to get to where they want to go.