Towards designing gender-neutral virtual environments
Male superiority in the field of spatial navigation has been reported upon, numerous times. Although there have been indications that men and women handle environmental navigation in different ways, with men preferring Euclidian navigation and women using mostly topographic techniques, we have found no reported links between those differences and the shortcomings of women on ground of ineffective environment design. We propose the enhancement of virtual environments with landmarks a technique we hypothesize could aid the performance of women without impairing that of men. In addition we touch upon a novel side of spatial navigation, with the introduction of time-pressure in the virtual environment. Our experimental results show that women benefit tremendously from landmarks in un-stressed situations, while men only utilize them successfully when they are under time-pressure. Furthermore we report on the beneficial impact that time-pressure has on men in terms of performance while navigating in a virtual environment.
Elena Gavrielidou and Maarten H. Lamers, Landmarks and time-pressure in virtual navigation: towards designing gender-neutral virtual environments. In: Facets of Virtual Environments (FAVE 2009), LNICST Vol. 33, pp 60-67, 2010