Faculty Research and Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2010


Studies of spatial representation generally focus on flat environments and visual stimuli. However, the world is not flat, and slopes are part of many natural environments. In a series of four experiments, we examined whether humans can use a slope as a source of allocentric, directional information for reorientation. A target was hidden in a corner of a square, featureless enclosure tilted at a 5° angle. Finding it required using the vestibular, kinesthetic and vis-ual cues associated with the slope gradient. Participants succeeded in the task; however, a large sex difference emerged. Men showed a greater ability in using slope and a greater preference for relying on slope as a searching strategy. The female disadvantage was not due to wearing heeled shoes, but was probably re-lated to a greater difficulty in extracting the vertical axis of the slope.

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Psychology Commons