Hormones Make Women Safer Drivers

Joined
Aug 19, 2003
Messages
46,025
Likes
16,172
Points
284
Location
Eblana
#1
Hormones make women safer drivers
The female hormone oestrogen could give women the edge when it comes to tasks such as safe driving, say researchers.
Tests showed attention span and ability to learn rules were far better among women than men.

The Bradford University scientists told a hormone conference in London how tasks requiring mental flexibility favour women over men.

A woman's oestrogen levels may prime the part of the brain involved in such skills - the frontal lobe - they said.


Oestrogens may positively influence neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, the area of the brain stimulated by tasks of attention and rule learning
The study authors

They asked 43 men and women aged 18-35 to perform a battery of neuropsychological tests that assessed skills such as spatial recognition memory, rule learning, attention, planning and motor control.

The women were far better at being able to shift their attention from one stimulus to another, making it easier for them to perform everyday actions like driving and reading.

This might explain why girls find it easier than boys to concentrate at school and why women are more careful drivers, the researchers hypothesise.

Speaking at the Society for Endocrinology meeting, they said: "This study demonstrates that tasks requiring mental flexibility favour women over men, an area previously not considered to elicit strong sex differences.

"Driving could be an example of how this is applied to everyday life.

"Our study suggests that oestrogens may positively influence neuronal activity in the frontal lobes, the area of the brain stimulated by tasks of attention and rule learning, which could explain the female advantage when performing these tasks."

Over-simplified

However, other researchers in the past have suggested that spatial skills such as map reading and parking may be difficult for some women because they had too little testosterone in the womb.

Dr Peter Marsh, author of Driving Passion: The Psychology of the Car, believes men and women have inherent differences which manifest themselves behind the wheel.


We have to be cautious. Driving is that it is not a single skill
Dr Nick Neave of the University of Northumbria

He says men like risk-taking, the thrill of the chase and sensation-seeking, while women are more cautious.

Women's accidents tend to be at roundabouts and T-junctions but at slower speeds than men, who are involved in more serious crashes because they can't brake quickly enough.

Dr Nick Neave, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Northumbria who has researched spatial awareness and gender differences, said: "The thing about driving is that it is not a single skill. There are many skills involved. There is a motor skill, there is rule learning, attention, spatial awareness and confidence as well.

"What we tend to find is that in certain aspects men are better - things like navigation, spatial awareness and confidence. But they have more accidents.

"For things like attention, there is evidence that females are better.

"There is a female advantage on certain frontal cortex tasks. We know that this brain area has oestrogen receptors so it is sensitive to this hormone.

"But we have to be cautious. The researchers have not looked at driving tests, so it is a bit of a leap for them to extrapolate.

"We would like to see more research on driving ability."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/h ... 406176.stm

Published: 2005/11/07 01:52:21 GMT

© BBC MMV
 

Mythopoeika

I am a meat popsicle
Joined
Sep 18, 2001
Messages
32,160
Likes
16,082
Points
309
Location
Inside a starship, watching puny humans from afar
#2
Women have fewer nasty accidents than men for a reason - they don't do as much motorway driving per se. Women mostly drive around town (shopping trips and school taxi runs), and consequently drive at much slower speeds - so most of the accidents that women are involved with are of the 'fender bender' variety.

The effect of hormones may have an effect on how safely (or otherwise) men drive (i.e. they take risks most women wouldn't take), but I really don't think hormones have much bearing on how women drive. Rather, I think it may have more to do with responsibility. If a woman is driving her kids to school, she will drive carefully to avoid the risk of injury to the kids. Many men (though not all, obviously) seem to have fewer inhibitions in this regard.
 

GNC

King-Sized Canary
Joined
Aug 25, 2001
Messages
25,053
Likes
8,589
Points
284
#3
I was told years ago that the way you drive is an extension of your personality. So if you're aggressive with people, your driving will be more dangerous.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,483
Likes
8,822
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
#4
On the other hand...

Women and gay men are 'worst drivers'
By Sarah Radford and agencies
Last Updated: 2:25am GMT 04/01/2008

Women and gay men are likely to be the worst drivers, a new study has shown.

Research has revealed that both perform poorly in tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness when compared to heterosexual men.

Psychologists at Queen Mary, University of London, who conducted the study, believe the findings mean driving in a strange environment would be more difficult for gay men and women than for straight male motorists.

Both tend to rely on local landmarks to get around, and are also slower to take in spatial information.

The computer-based tests were carried out on 140 volunteers, and demonstrated that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in a similar way, sharing the same weaknesses.

The results back earlier studies supporting the stereotype that women are poor navigators.

Although women are more successful in tests requiring them to remember the position of objects, men consistently do better in tasks requiring navigation and uncovering hidden objects.

The research team, led by Dr Qazi Rahman, used virtual reality simulations of two common tests of spatial learning and memory developed at Yale University.

In one, volunteers had to swim through an underwater maze to find a hidden platform, while the second involved exploring radial arms projecting from a central junction to receive 'rewards' .

Dr Rahman said: "Men are good at using distal, or geometrical cues, to decide if they’re going north or south, for instance. They have a better basic sense of direction, but they can use local land marks as well.

"Driving in a novel environment which is poor in cues is where these differences are likely to show up most.

"Women are going to take a lot longer to reach their destination, making more errors, taking wrong turns etc. They need more rich local landmarks."

Dr Rahman added that a similar performance between gay and straight men in the radial arms test showed that the divisions between sexual groups were not straightforward.

"Gay people appear to show a ‘mosaic’ of performance, parts of which are male-like and other parts of which are female-like," he said.

http://tinyurl.com/25x6ks
 

escargot

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
22,933
Likes
13,958
Points
309
#5
two common tests of spatial learning and memory developed at Yale University.

In one, volunteers had to swim through an underwater maze to find a hidden platform
:shock:

I bet they put a shark in there too. Just liven things up a bit.
 

PeniG

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Dec 31, 2003
Messages
2,394
Likes
160
Points
79
#6
Better, worse - driving is comprised of so many things, you can't possibly make a valid generalization about which group of people is better at driving overall.

I don't see why women would do less highway driving than men in this day and age, when everybody of both genders is working two jobs and carting the kids around. On long trips, you should rotate among all available drivers every couple of hours to prevent fatigue. Men are statistically more likely to be long-haul truckers, but I think you have to cut truckers out of the overall statistics because their jobs involve so many factors that other people don't have to deal with.

Concerning spatial ability - I find that sitting in the driver's seat of the car changes my spatial ability. This may relate to the fact that I didn't learn to drive till my mid-forties, but was raised with an abnormal amount of passenger time due to the frequency with which we moved, I don't know. As a passenger, I'm very observant and can navigate well. Since I have tended to be the only person without driving chores, I've spent a lot of time as designated navigator, and this has trained me both to read maps and to spot landmarks. Also, all the time I've spent on the bus has given me an intimate knowledge of the areas of my town with good public transportation. "Inside the Loop" I always know which direction I'm facing, even on one of those streets that confuses everybody else (we have one street downtown that goes all four directions in the space of all mile), and I know all available on-foot shortcuts, but I can't remember which way one-way streets go.

Put me in the driver's seat of a car and the fact that I have to spend all my time focusing on the traffic around me means that I become disoriented quickly. The first time I ever drove to the airport, I got a 180-degree flip in my sense of spatial relations, feeling that I was driving north when I was heading south. I often have to ignore my sense of where I am in order to follow street signs.

However, during my first driving lesson, the instructor deliberately talked me through a complex random set of turns well outside my own neighborhood, in order to present an object-lesson in how easy it was to get lost, and when he said: "Okay, now where are we?" I was floored him by responding "Fredericksburg Road, north of the Medical Center, heading into town." Apparently I was the first person ever to be able to do that. But I knew I was all right because I was with an instructor, and when he asked where we were the first thing I saw was a bus sign, so I knew what line I was on, so I knew what street I was on, so I was able to put together the landscape clues, so I was fine. When I get lost since then, I take that memory and use it. The important thing is not to panic. If you have to pull into a gas station and look at a map, then you have to. If you find yourself headed the wrong way, then you turn around. It's not the end of the world, unless you panic yourself into an accident. So what if you're late? You can't be later than dead.

So, I wonder whether the ability to remain oriented spatially is related to confidence - which is culturally (not, I think, biologically, but I could be wrong) a masculine trait? While the ability to drive a safe speed with adequate distance between you and the next car is related to humility - culturally (but not, I think, biologically) a feminine trait.

When I took driver's ed in high school, the teacher (who was really a football coach) took great care to warn the boys that they couldn't count on their reflexes to save them from accidents, because the reflexes were going to deteriorate with age and then they'd be out on the road with bad reflexes and bad driving habits. Alas, he took no such care with the girls - he just yelled at us indiscriminately.
 

hedgewizard1

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Oct 5, 2003
Messages
742
Likes
9
Points
49
#7
PeniG said:
Better, worse - driving is comprised of so many things, you can't possibly make a valid generalization about which group of people is better at driving overall.

I don't see why women would do less highway driving than men in this day and age, when everybody of both genders is working two jobs and carting the kids around.

Concerning spatial ability - I find that sitting in the driver's seat of the car changes my spatial ability. Put me in the driver's seat of a car and the fact that I have to spend all my time focusing on the traffic around me means that I become disoriented quickly.

So, I wonder whether the ability to remain oriented spatially is related to confidence - which is culturally a masculine trait? While the ability to drive a safe speed with adequate distance between you and the next car is related to humility - culturally a feminine trait.

When I took driver's ed in high school, the teacher (who was really a football coach) took great care to warn the boys that they couldn't count on their reflexes to save them from accidents, because the reflexes were going to deteriorate with age and then they'd be out on the road with bad reflexes and bad driving habits. Alas, he took no such care with the girls - he just yelled at us indiscriminately.
Peni, it seems your editors really earn their pay.

As for driving safety, age is a factor as well. The younger drivers, male and female, are more inclined towards risk taking behavior. The elderly driver is more inclined to be overly cautious.

There are so many variables involved that any generalized statement about one group being better than another is most likely wrong.
 

escargot

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
22,933
Likes
13,958
Points
309
#8
That shark, I was wondering, can you sit sharks in the back seats of people's cars?
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,483
Likes
8,822
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
#10
Ronson8 said:
escargot1 said:
That shark, I was wondering, can you sit sharks in the back seats of people's cars?
Of course you can, my MIL is often in the back seat! :)
Do you mean your MiL is a shark, or that you hope that the shark would have a taste for MiLs?!
 

The late Pete Younger

Venerable and Missed
Joined
Jul 31, 2001
Messages
5,934
Likes
102
Points
129
#11
rynner said:
Ronson8 said:
escargot1 said:
That shark, I was wondering, can you sit sharks in the back seats of people's cars?
Of course you can, my MIL is often in the back seat! :)
Do you mean your MiL is a shark, or that you hope that the shark would have a taste for MiLs?!
Snappy and bad tempered, make up your own mind! :)
 

James_H

And I like to roam the land
Joined
May 18, 2002
Messages
5,549
Likes
1,989
Points
234
#12
A bit suspicious of the initial study. Sample of 43 people, not doing any driving - and the article's about how hormones may affect driving.
 

escargot

Beloved of Ra
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
22,933
Likes
13,958
Points
309
#13
Yup.

Researcher: This way. Just take a deep breath, bob down and swim underwater until you find the platform.
Woman: When do I get to drive on the skidpan? You said I could drive on the skidpan.
Researcher: OK, we're releasing the shark now, off you go!
Woman: I'm feeling hormonal now.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,483
Likes
8,822
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
#14
Just to be pedantic,

"The computer-based tests were carried out on 140 volunteers, and demonstrated that gay men, straight women and lesbians navigated in a similar way, sharing the same weaknesses."


But the underwater bit does conjure up this little scene:

Professor: Jones, This research I asked you to do on Driving...

Jones: Oh, Driving! Sorry, I read it as Diving...! :D
 

ElishevaBarsabe

Abominable Snowman
Joined
Mar 19, 2002
Messages
794
Likes
29
Points
49
#15
rynner said:
On the other hand...
Dr Rahman said: "Men are good at using distal, or geometrical cues, to decide if they’re going north or south, for instance. They have a better basic sense of direction, but they can use local land marks as well.

"Driving in a novel environment which is poor in cues is where these differences are likely to show up most.

"Women are going to take a lot longer to reach their destination, making more errors, taking wrong turns etc. They need more rich local landmarks."
Doesn't speak to any accident rates, does it, which is really the important part.
 

rynner2

Great Old One
Joined
Aug 7, 2001
Messages
55,483
Likes
8,822
Points
284
Location
Under the moon
#16
ElishevaBarsabe said:
Doesn't speak to any accident rates, does it, which is really the important part.
By definition, this research seemed to be looking at navigational abilities:
Women and gay men are likely to be the worst drivers, a new study has shown.

Research has revealed that both perform poorly in tasks involving navigation and spatial awareness when compared to heterosexual men.
The hormone research at the start of this thread suggests women could be safer drivers.

But I guess, as in all things, these different abilities tend to balance out.
A driver who's worried about being lost may lose road concentration while trying to get orientated, while an over-confident navigator may neglect basic safe driving.
 

EnolaGaia

I knew the job was dangerous when I took it ...
Staff member
Joined
Jul 19, 2004
Messages
9,164
Likes
8,676
Points
294
Location
Out of Bounds
#17
...Put me in the driver's seat of a car and the fact that I have to spend all my time focusing on the traffic around me means that I become disoriented quickly. The first time I ever drove to the airport, I got a 180-degree flip in my sense of spatial relations, feeling that I was driving north when I was heading south. I often have to ignore my sense of where I am in order to follow street signs. ...

So, I wonder whether the ability to remain oriented spatially is related to confidence - which is culturally (not, I think, biologically, but I could be wrong) a masculine trait? While the ability to drive a safe speed with adequate distance between you and the next car is related to humility - culturally (but not, I think, biologically) a feminine trait. ...
Your allusion to cultural rather than innate factors as the important ones seems to have been prescient, given this study a decade later ...

The unpleasant reason men navigate better than women
Men are better at navigating than women, according to a massive study, but there's not much for men to be proud about.

Scientists at University College London say the difference has more to do with discrimination and unequal opportunities than any innate ability.

The findings come from research into a test for dementia.

But it has also given an unprecedented insight into people's navigational ability all around the world.

The experiment is actually a computer game, Sea Hero Quest, that has had more than four million players. ...

One clear picture, published in the journal Current Biology, was that men were better at navigating than women. But why?

Prof Hugo Spiers thinks he has found the answer by looking at data from the World Economic Forum's Gender Gap Index - which studies equality in areas from education to health and jobs to politics.

He told the BBC: "We don't think the effects we see are innate.

"So countries where there is high equality between men and women, the difference between men and women is very small on our spatial navigation test.

"But when there's high inequality the difference between men and women is much bigger. And that suggests the culture people are living in has an effect on their cognitive abilities." ...
FULL STORY: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-45134809
 
Top