Effects of Nearby and Distant Cues on Performance of Men and Women in a Virtual Environment

Faculty Sponsor

Carol Lawton

Document Type




University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


Purpose: Recent findings suggest that spatial learning in men is guided to a greater extent than in women by distal visual cues and geometric properties of the surrounding environment (Barkley & Gabriel, 2007; Kelly & Bischof, 2005; Sandstrom, Kaufman, & Huettel, 1998). Men are more accurate in initial path trajectory in a virtual environment, perhaps because they set their heading based on distal cues (Woolley et al., 2010). The current study examined gender differences in virtual navigation when cues were provided either by outdoor scenes visible through windows or by objects in the room in addition to window scenes. We hypothesized that women would rely more on the nearby objects when navigating and therefore would perform worse when the objects were not present, whereas men would perform equally well in the presence or absence of the objects. We also predicted that women’s initial path trajectories would be guided more than men’s by the objects.

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