February 25, 2005

Women and Gay Men Both Bad at Map-Reading

Women and Gay Men Both Bad at Map-Reading

Homosexual men share the same relatively poor map reading skills as heterosexual women, according to a study.

Earlier research found men better than women at finding their way around a "virtual reality" maze, relying on geometric cues while women rely more on landmarks. Yesterday Dr Qazi Rahman and colleagues from the University of East London reported in Behavioural Neuroscience that homosexual men used more landmarks during map reading than did heterosexual men, adopting a blend of male and female navigational strategies.

They investigated map reading by 20 heterosexual men, 20 homosexual men, 20 heterosexual women and 20 lesbians. The group memorised routes and was then asked to provide directions on how to get from one place to another.

Amusingly, the Telegraph (mis)titled the article "Gay men share women's talents for map reading." In an era when a President of Harvard quakes in fear of being accused of being insensitive about women's talents, then I guess a lowly headline writer should be forgiven.

Actually, I wouldn't have guessed that gay men are poor on average at map-reading, since some are awfully good at visual skills, such as the recently deceased gay Nazi architect Philip Johnson. In general, it's hard to predict on which traits gay men tend to be more feminine than straight men and on which they tend to be similar, as I pointed out in "Why Lesbians Aren't Gay."

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