Men to the East and Women to the Right: Wayfinding with Verbal Route Instructions
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In this paper, we investigate the outdoor wayfinding performance of men and women in a shifting frame of reference with verbal route instructions given in German language. This study replicated the methodology of Ishikawa and Kiyomoto (2008) but investigated also the gender component. The participants were divided into absolute-relative (A-R) and relative-absolute (R-A) groups. They had to follow ten routes: The A-R group walked the first set of five routes with instructions given in absolute frame of reference which shifted to instructions in relative frame of reference. The R-A group, on the other hand, walked the first set of five routes with relative instructions and shifted to an absolute reference frame. In the experiment, the results showed that participants in both groups had difficulty following the absolute instructions wherein they had significantly more stops, more deviations and travelled longer off-route. The overall performance increase of participants who started with an absolute and shifted to a relative reference frame was higher than the performance decrease of participants who started with a relative and shifted to an absolute reference frame. In terms of gender, the wayfinding performance of both, men and women, was significantly better with instructions in relative than in absolute reference frame. Women made fewer stops, fewer deviations, and did not walk off the route as frequently as men. However, the gender effect was not significant.
Keywordsoutdoor wayfinding frame of reference gender verbal route instructions
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