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Schoedel, Ramona; Hilbert, Sven; Bühner, Markus; Stachl, Clemens (2018): One way to guide them all. Wayfinding strategies and the examination of gender-specific navigational instructions in a real-driving context. In: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Vol. 58: pp. 754-768
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Previous research suggests that men outperform women when they are required to use Euclidean information such as distances for orientation tasks, whereas women are superior in the use of landmarks. Our study examines whether this finding stands up to a test if it is put into an application context. Besides comparing self-reported wayfinding strategies between gender groups, we investigated if auditory instructions in navigation systems can be adjusted to potential gender differences in order to improve performance and to decrease distraction from the driving-task. Participants (N = 76) respond to a questionnaire for wayfinding strategy use and take part in a real-world 20 min, standardized driving task. Driving behavior as well as glance and blink data are recorded via data-logging and eye-tracking. Overall, male and female orientation behavior is much more similar than indicated by previous research. Both men and women predominantly report to use landmark rather than Euclidean information. Correspondingly, even though they selectively respond to distance-versus landmark-based auditory navigational instructions when navigating while driving, the utilization of landmarks as navigation queries results in a lower visual distraction and mental workload for both, men and women. Driving performance is not selectively affected. Our results indicate that the use of landmarks as auditory navigational cues can make driving both safer and more comfortable for men and women. Consequently, in-car navigation systems can benefit from the implementation of landmark navigation prompts.