When it comes to spatial memory—the part of one's memory responsible for navigation—there appears to be an inherent difference between the sexes. According to a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, men and women use different methods for remembering where one object is in relation to another—and the process men use seems to yield moderately better results.
The study was conducted at a shopping mall with a large parking lot (431 spaces). Researchers interviewed shoppers as they were leaving stores, asking them to describe where they parked their car and to estimate its distance from the mall by marking the car's locations on a map. Women were more likely to use landmarks to remember where they parked their cars, whereas men used quantifiable terms, like distance measurements.
The drivers were then followed to their cars to see how accurate their directions were. Only 14% of the shoppers made a "substantial detour," but most of them were women. However, the study didn't take into account certain behavioral variables that could affect the results. For instance, how many times had the women interviewed been to that shopping mall that month compared to the men? Could repeated trips to the mall and parking in several different spots in a shorter period of time cloud the memory?
While this study—which was conducted on 115 people—finds that men excel over women at spatial memory, previous studies have found that women are better at "verbal episodic memory," like words, objects, and everyday events. Women are more emotionally attuned, and thus, can remember things like what was said in conversations and what the people having those conversations were wearing and how they smelled.
Both studies would indicate while men might be more likely to remember his way out of the woods, women have the advantage with long-term memory based on personal experience, meaning they're more equipped to "keep score" emotionally. Anyone who watches any of the Real Housewives shows knows this.
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