Gender differences in navigating virtual worlds

Madhumathi Sakthivel, Patrick E. Patterson, Carolina Cruz-Neira

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Navigation and wayfinding are key human factors in information processing and performance in the virtual worlds. Earlier studies have focussed on finding effective navigational aids that would support skilled wayfinding behavior of humans in large virtual worlds. Also, on a separate but related field there have been speculations that there exist biological differences between men and women's directional sense that leads to difference in performances on everyday spatial tasks in the real world. This paper focuses on findings of an experiment that was designed to elucidate the gender differences in navigating a dense, large virtual world namely the virtual Iowa State University (ISU) campus simulated in the projection based C2 virtual reality system. Equal number of subjects from both the genders with varied background (age, computer skills etc.) were assigned tasks that required them to navigate their way from one location to another within the school campus. Performance in the virtual world was studied in terms of time taken, distance traveled, number of wrong turns, number of times the subject got lost and navigation strategies/techniques used by the subjects. We conclude that there are reliable gender based differences in navigating large virtual worlds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-359
Number of pages7
JournalBiomedical Sciences Instrumentation
StatePublished - 1999
EventProceedings of the 1999 36th Annual Rocky Mountain Bioengineering Symposium (RMBS) and 36th International ISA Biomedical Sciences Instrumentation Symposium - Copper Mountain, CO, USA
Duration: Apr 16 1998Apr 18 1998


  • Gender differences
  • Human factors
  • Navigational skills
  • Virtual reality
  • Virtual world


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