Do Men Know Directions Better Than Women?

The more things change, the more things, well, change.

A new study has found that men evolved better navigation ability than women because men with better spatial skills – the ability to mentally manipulate objects – can roam farther and have children with more mates.

Welcome to the 21st century.

The study was done on two African tribes so I don't know how much of that really relates to this part of the world, judging from my husband -- and most of the men I know -- navigation ability?  Better suggest they can make dinner while helping with homework and writing a dissertation, all at the same time. 

My husband can't turn on the oven and put dinner in, at the same time.  But anyway. 

By testing and interviewing dozens of members of the Twe and Tjimba tribes in northwest Namibia,  men who did better on a spatial task not only traveled farther than other men but also had children with more women, according to the study.

And the real deal is, they're supposedly better than us.

I don't know so much about the reproductive angle.  I just know a lot of men who couldn't tell north from a North Face backpack if they didn't have a woman along.  

But this study apparently showed there's a demonstrated relationship between sex differences in how far some mammals range or travel, and sex differences in their spatial and navigation abilities. But until now, little has been known about this relationship in humans.

“The argument in the literature is that you need good spatial ability to navigate successfully, and you need to navigate effectively to travel long distances in unfamiliar environments,” says senior study author and anthropology professor Elizabeth Cashdan at the University of Utah.

I remember when we were first dating we went to Barbados, which, despite being a lovely place, had virtually no road signs.  I've always had a good memory for direction and I was able to navigate our rented car back and forth to the hotel across the island, at least 15 miles, going through tiny villages, finding the right way in the roundabouts, not hitting the sweet little kids who ran alongside the car or the dogs jumping up at the windows.  I admit at times I was a little scared, because here we were, in a foreign land, with no street signs or maps (forget maps!) or even town names, and we had to figure out how to get from one part of the island to the other, without any kind of help.

(Have you ever heard a guy ask for directions?)

In those days we also liked to take long walks in wooded preserves and Larry would start getting a little nervous as it got dark because he knew there was no way he'd be able to figure out how to retrace our steps.   But somehow, maybe it was instinct, I was able to sense the right way to go, and we always got back to the car.

In those days I was more fearless and I just figured we'd find our way, and we did.  I don't know if today I could do that. I got lost last week trying to find my way into Stamford High School from the back parking lot and after walking for what seemed like days, found myself at a fence that ended in a wall, and I admit, I started to panic.  And I grew up in Stamford!

So is it true that men can navigate better than women? Not in my house.  But I think that's how I got him, in the end.  He knew, with me, he'd never get lost.  I would save him, every time.



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