Chad Kelleher's Senior
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Gender Differences in Orientation and Navigation
in  Virtual Reality 3D Maze
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Gender Differences in Orientation and Navigation in  Virtual Reality 3D Maze

Chad L. Kelleher
Saint Anselm College
Department of Psychology
Manchester, New Hampshire
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Saint Anselm College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts
November 1999

 Where do I begin?  I would like to start by thanking my parents, naturally.  They have given me the support I needed throughout my whole life, but more importantly, they have given me the gifts of education and of love.  Both have helped me grow into a person I didn’t know could exist.  Thank you Mom and Dad.
I would also like to thank the faculty in the psychology department for their unending dedication to these senior theses, especially Professor Krauchunas, Professor Flannery, Professor Finn, and Barbara Bartlett.
Thank you Professor Krauchunas for working side by side on the virtual reality, and for never giving up on that God-forsaken Cypberpuck (copyright Forte Technologies), as well as all of the phone calls to England, your passion is commendable.
Thank you Professor Flannery.  You have been my advisor all four years, and you were also the one that helped me develop this topic and embark on this adventure into virtual reality; your statistical determination and “never say die” attitude toward SPSS is also commendable.
Thank you Professor Finn, for you have done more than just mark up my rough drafts and revisions.  You have pushed me to grow on more than just a psychological level.  You have pushed me to grow in all my aspects of life.  It is because of you that I have found what I believe to be my calling in the clinical field of psychology.  Someone somewhere gave you the keys to start opening up the doors to the secret of life, and you are willing and eager to share those keys with as many people as you can.  Your ability to live life should be commended and recognized for what it is worth.
I would also like to thank Barbara Bartlett.  No Barbara, you didn’t have any specific hand in my thesis, but you did tolerate my singing, and my loud behavior, and you let me be who I am as I began to live in the psychology department.  Your ability to accept people for who they are is what I commend you for.
Three more people to thank, then I am done.  I would like to thank my girlfriend, Elise.  She has put up with some of the crankiest annoying behavior known to man as I have vented about my thesis over the past three months, and all she has done was smile back and offer words of encouragement.  Thank you, you are my angel.
Finally, to the two females in my life that didn’t let me fall apart, and more importantly, help me to see who I am and who I truly can be.  Thank you Nic and thank you Erin.  If everyone had the support that I have had from you two since the start of the year, then I strongly believe many of the problems of today would not seem so unbearable.  I’m starting to get somewhat sentimental, so all I’ll say is that I think the two of you know what you mean to me.  Thank you.  We’re done.

Gender differences in visuo-spatial ability have been measured more than any other form of gender differentiation. One task used to support gender
differences in visuo-spatial ability involves an orientation and navigational task in a 3-d maze. This task consists of the participant following a set route through a maze, then identifying where they believe the start of maze is in relation to their present position.  This experiment was conducted by Lawton and Morrin (1997) using a
popular video game. However, gender specific experiential skills allowed males to score more than 20 degrees better in that experiment. It is hypothesized that by using a virtual reality environment, this average would be lowered. A gender difference was still present but at a lower degree than previously seen.  There were significant findings involving pointing accuracy and trial effect, but no significant difference between pointing accuracy of the 12 males and 12 females who participated in this study.

Table of Contents
 Materials and Procedure.......................
 Experiential Skill............................
 Full Model Comparison of Turn and Gender......
 Comparison of Trials to Criterion by Gender...
 Comparison of Pointing Error in
Initial Trials................................
 Experiential Skill............................
 Gender and Turn in Wayfinding.................
 Trials to Criterion by Gender.................
Appendix A.........................................
Appendix B.........................................
Appendix C.........................................
Appendix D.........................................
Appendix E..........................................
Gender Differences in Orientation and Navigation in Virtual Reality 3D Mazes
Gender differences favoring males in visual-spatial performance have been reported more quantitatively than any other cognitive differences (Halpern, 1992).  Linn & Peterson (1985) showed gender accounts more substantially for some spatial relations tasks than others.  Gender differences have also been shown to involve speed of response rather than of accuracy (Blough & Slavin, 1987).  However, Lawton & Morrin (1997) report males perform more accurately on spatial tasks than females.  The visual-spatial task involved in the present experiment, spatial perception, was deemed by Linn & Peterson (1985) to be one of the top three visual-spatial abilities represented in literature about gender differences.
 The question of why gender differences exists has not been fully investigated. While biological and genetic factors cannot be ignored, research has not offered ample evidence to support such claims that cognitive processes, and more specifically, visual-spatial abilities are related to genes.  One major factor might originate in the training and experience in both genders.  Baenninger & Newcombe (1989) have reported that both sexes show a positive correlation between experience and practice time on visual-spatial tasks, and subsequent performance.  Experiential skills have also shown to have an effect on performance.  In one study, 37 percent of the difference between males and females in elementary school children’s block design scores could be accounted for by the presence of “masculine” toys in their homes (Serbin, Zelkowitz, Doyle, Gold, & Wheaton, 1990).
 In accordance with Baenninger’s (1989) study,  experience on video games and computers have a direct effect on score results, such as in Lawton and Morrin’s (1997) study on pointing accuracy in a computer simulated maze.  That experiment contains results for a survey filled out by participants stating that males showed greater experiential skills on computer simulated video games.  The present experiment will hope to diminish such an imbalanced skill by transferring the task to a virtual reality apparatus.
 One major factor in spatial relation and gender difference lies in how each gender perceives the environment around him or her.  One way that people maneuver through their environment is by the use of schematic memory.  Each person contains “packages” of generalized kinds of knowledge known as schemas.
Even though people have schemas, males and females seem to vary with how they apply these schemas to different applications of life, from math and science (Lips, 1995) to memory recall (Skowronski, & Thompson, 1990) and even in gender assessment (Cann, 1993; Day, 1994).  One area where this inequality exists involves spatial characteristics of the environment.  Males have been shown to use the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), when giving directions while females tend to cite landmarks in giving directions (Ward, Newcombe, & Overton, 1986).  In a navigational program, such as Lawton’s (1997) and the present study, the removal of landmarks may account for a difference in gender scores.
According to Lawton’s study (1994), the orientation strategy (used by males) makes use of global reference points, such as the previously mentioned compass directions, as well as environmental factors, such as the position of the sun in the sky.  The route strategy (used by females) involves a focus on information applied to a how a route is to be followed, such as instructions regarding where to turn on a course.
These gender differences in wayfinding strategies have been proven to hold true in both outdoor settings (Lawton, 1994) and indoor settings (Lawton, 1996).    In these types of real world tests, males have shown to score higher than females by approximately 5 to 40 angular degrees (1996).
This disparity does overlap with the spatial relational concept of pointing accuracy, as pointing accuracy favors an orientation wayfinding strategy, with its stress on directional positioning (Lawton, 1997). Carol Lawton’s study will be the basis on which the present experiment will be conducted, so a thorough explanation of her study is necessary.  The purpose of her study was to examine factors affecting gender difference in pointing accuracy in a three-dimensional computer-simulated maze.  Her experiment was split into two sections.
In the first experiment she investigated a gender difference in pointing accuracy after moving through the maze.  Experiment 1 also examined whether the pointing accuracy of males and females would be affected by an increase in the amount of turns in the maze.  Previous research has shown that increasing the number of turns in a computer-simulated environment increased the difficulty of reconstructing the route on a map (Peruch & Lapin, 1993).  In accordance with the baseline belief that males would score better in pointing accuracy, Lawton theorized that males would also show greater accuracy in pointing as the mazes turned more complex.   The second portion of the experiment dealt with the effect of feedback designed to focus attention on directional information while maneuvering through the mazes on pointing accuracy in both genders.
One reason experiments involving gender differences related to environmental cognition and navigational ability might be due to the difficulty of conducting research in large-scale environments.  Lawton overcame this problem by creating a three dimensional maze using a design program coordinated with the popular computer game, Doom II? (id software, 1994).  This game allows the subject a more realistic feeling by presenting the game in a first person format.  This concept by Lawton did succeed in overcoming the problem with relative size, but initiated another confound into the experiment.
It is easy to hypothesize that males are more involved with video and computer games than females.  This is especially true when one takes into account the common stereotype about males’s affinity towards the violent nature of the video game Doom II.  Lawton believed that she remedied the situation by asking the participants to fill out a Likert-form survey ranging on a five point scale the frequency with which they have played the video game “Doom” or games similar to its navigational style.  The scale ranged from Not at all Frequently to Very Frequently.  While she did acknowledge the fact that video game experience needed to be respected, she did nothing to rid the experiment of the confound.  Therefore, she was forced to state in the last sentence of her abstract that a quantitative, not qualitative difference in pointing performance of males and females was suggested by the study.
The results were close to median of the 5 to 40 degrees that Lawton reported in her indoor wayfinding study (1996).  The magnitude of the difference between females and males in the computer simulation was approximately 20?, which does fit with the preceding real world studies.  However, one point that went against the theory dealt with the differences in maze difficulty.  Gender difference in pointing accuracy was unaffected by an increase in turns in the maze.  In other words, the gap between male and female did not increase, even though scores in general went down, as they might have been expected to.
Lawton then tries to pass off experiential skill in the video game as a finding, stating the more experienced males showed better scores because of their prior interaction with the navigational skills necessary for this task.  This does strike as a misnomer due to her previous studies.  Males have been shown to outperform females in her previous navigational tasks (1994, 1996), yet she chose to suggest male superiority was a result of video game experience.  No matter what the answer may be, the confound still exists.  Video game experience does affect the results for this experience, and needs to addressed and remedied.
The best way to eliminate the computer experience bias, yet still keep the task on the computer is through the use of virtual reality.  Although there have been little to no peer reviewed articles involving virtual reality and its psychological effects, the main purpose for the existence of virtual reality will be enough to justify its use in the study.
And the main purpose of virtual reality?  To immerse the user into as realistic an experience as possible.  A more realistic experience could then bring about better preparation and study of ideas and concepts that for one reason or another could not happen in the real world.  This is done through the elimination of user interfaces that tie down and “trap” the user in his or her desktop.  In order to escape the confines of the desktop, devices such as a head mounted display (HMD) have been created.  The HMD deals with not only the visual aspect of a more realistic experience, but also functions as a median for the auditory field.  By making use of classic stereo sound, especially location specification, like surround sound, a more integrated environment can be traversed by the user.
As for the visual field, tactics such as binocular disparity, converging lines, and flickering are all used to present a more three dimensional world.  Converging lines deal with the concept of linear perspective, where parallel lines appear closer when you are farther away.  This approach is also used to show depth in two-dimensional art.
Binocular disparity is a concept that can be understood by simply looking at oneself in the mirror.  The human facial features were designed to allow for the eyes to be slightly separate, to allow for two slightly different views of the same image.  The two eyes, separated by 5½ degrees, converge on the same point, allowing for images to be viewed in three dimensions.
The HMD complies with this by containing two different screens, slightly diverged, to make for a more realistic image.  Finally, flickering, or interlacing, is simply the varying of the image between each eye, one at a time at a very rapid speed.  All these factors combine to present that three-dimensional image so crucial to bring the user to a more realistic experience.
Another way to reduce the experiential skill present in the “Doom experienced” males of this study is to eliminate the subject’s use of navigation.  Having each participant use verbal commands levels the bias, as both males and females have an equal ability to say “stop” and “go”.  So, by using the HMD and verbal commands, it is my belief that the experiential skills present in Lawton’s study (1997) will be eliminated, leaving just the actual gender difference in pointing accuracy present in the results.
The purpose of this study is to use virtual reality equipment to eliminate the experiential skills causing males to score so much better than females in pointing accuracy. I hypothesize that the elimination of the experiential skill will lower the 20-degree average.  I believe that there will still be a gender difference, real world tasks have proven so.  But the difference will lessen in this present study from Lawton’s previous study.

 The participants for this study were 12 male and 12 female small liberal arts college students enrolled in general psychology classes. Students received course credit for participating in this study.  If the students chose not to participate they had the option of writing a one page paper for every one credit slip they did not have.
 The maze was created using Superscape, a program for designing virtual reality environments.  The maze was presented on a 600 MHz Pentium II processor with a VGA color display.  Each subject wore a head-mounted display (HMD), created by i-glasses. For movement, the subject used verbal commands to tell the experimenter when to start and stop at each intersection in the maze.  The maze itself was constructed using a large grid section in which the entire internal environment appeared identical, with no landmarks provided.  The two, four and six-turn maze route designed by Lawton (1997) was then applied to this grid.  The walls were solid, in that participants could not pass through them, only bounce off.  The route was constructed so no more than two consecutive turns are in the same direction. A circular cardboard “compass” similar to that used in Lawton’s study was constructed, bearing 180 degrees in either direction to allow participants to point exactly where they perceived the start of the maze to be.
 A specific informed consent form was created to address the specific concerns involving virtual reality, namely the tight enclosed environment, as well as any chance for vertigo or nausea due to the turbulent motions involved with a head mounted display (see Appendix A).  A specific debriefing statement was also produced to discuss the parameters of this specific study (see Appendix B).
Each subject started at the same point in the maze, then navigated around in the route pattern through the maze.  Each subject followed the same predestined route as it was laid out beforehand.  Then each subject used the compass to identify the start of their route in accordance with their present position.  Participants practiced using both the HMD and the verbal commands, as well as demonstrated a clear grasp of how to work the compass.  Functional knowledge of the compass was shown by a pointing error less than 20 degrees away from the correct answer.
 Participants navigated through a real world 1-turn task until they reached criterion (less than 20 degrees pointing error) or until they attempted five trials.  If the participants were not able to reach criterion after five trials, the experiment was stopped due to misunderstanding of experimental directions.  This potential participant disqualification existed at all levels of the study.  If criterion was reached, the participants moved on to attempt a practice virtual reality 2-turn task in order to better acclimatize themselves to the environment and equipment.  Participants navigated through the maze using the HMD and verbal commands to the experimenter.  They were able to rotate their bodies to face the new direction by using the HMD, and moved back in forth by simply informing the experimenter.  Moving backwards was not an option, as participants were not to re-trace their steps in the maze.   After criterion was reached in the 2-turn task, participants navigated through either a 4-turn or 6-turn virtual reality route, based upon random selection
 Following completion of the pointing task, participants were asked to rate their computer experience on a paper and pencil survey (see Appendix C).  This survey accounted for experience playing “Doom” or video games similar to it, such as “Quake” and “Duke Nukem”.  The survey also measured participants’ rate of frequency in activities thought to improve hand-eye coordination on a scale of 1-6, with 1=never participated in, to 6=participates in more than once a week, as well as other computer skills and virtual reality experience.  They were also asked to complete the Immersive Tendencies Questionnaire (see Appendix D) and the Presence Questionnaire (Witmer & Singer, 1996)(see Appendix E) to control for a potential difference in gender and immersion, as well as presence in the virtual environment, and any effects these variables may have had on score.
 A mixed model analysis of variance (MANOVA) as well as independent variable t-test was used to process the data collected from the experiment.

Experiential Skill
 24 students (12 male and 12 female) from an introductory psychology class at a small New England liberal arts college participated in this study.  Age was unknown, as it was not seen as a confounding variable.
 Independent variable t-tests were run to compare the means between gender and experience on the groups’ general video games, Doom-similar games, and virtual reality.  The mean self report of general game experience in number of hours played per week was significantly lower for females (M=1.00,  = 2.00, then for males (M=3.79, SD=3.73) (see table 1 for comparison of experiential skill surveys) t (22)=2.43, p < .05.  Experience involving Doom and similar video games approached a significant difference with males’ number of hours played (M=33.9, SD=57.4) scoring higher than females’ (M=0.41, SD=1.44) t (22) =2.02, p=0.056.  Virtual reality experience showed no significant difference between males’ self-rating of their perceived personal experience (M=3.5, SD=1.17) and females’ self rating (M=3.42, SD=1.44), t (22) =0.16, p=0.878.
Each subject filled out the Immersive Tendency Questionnaire as well as the Presence Questionnaire at the completion of all the way-finding tasks.  T-tests were run to compare the mean ratings of all the males and all the females in each survey.  There was no significant difference involving total presence between males and females, t (22) =1.13, p=0.272.
 No significant difference was found between males and females involving each gender’s perceived amount of control in the environment, t (22) =0.027, p=0.978.  There was a significant difference between gender concerning how natural the virtual environment felt, with females scoring higher (perceiving the environment as more natural)(M=13.58, SD=2.84) than males (M=10.67, SD=3.39), t (22) =2.282, p<0.04.  No significant difference was found between males and females regarding interface quality with the virtual reality, t (22) =0.057, p=0.955.
 Regarding the Immersive Tendencies Questionnaire, no significant difference was found between gender as to the total score on the survey, t (22) =1.15, p=0.264.  No significant difference between gender was found for how focused a subject gets regarding various forms of stimuli, t (22) =0.810, p=0.427.  No significant difference was found regarding how involved in a task each gender gets, t (22) =0.098, p=0.923.
Table 1
Experiential Skill Survey
Condition N M SD P
Presence-Total Score
9.71 0.272
Presence-Control Score
6.90 0.978
Presence-Natural Score
2.84 0.033*
Presence-Interface Quality
3.89 0.955
Immersion-Total Score
15.89 0.264
Immersion-Focus Score
6.17 0.427
Immersion-Involvement Score
8.40 0.923
General Game Experience
2.00 0.024*
Doom Experience
1.44 0.056
Virtual Reality Experience
1.44 0.878
Note.  *p<0.04

Full Model Comparison of Turn and Gender
 The first task all 24 participants participated in was a real world, 1-turn route, scored over 5 trials.  A mixed model analysis of variance (MANOVA) with degree of pointing accuracy difference as dependent variable was used to analyze the effects of turns and gender.  Pointing accuracy increased over trials (lower degree) in both genders, F (2, 22)=34.26, p<0.001.  No main effects were shown between gender and pointing accuracy, F (2, 22)=0.073, p=0.790.
 The second task was a 2-turn virtual reality task in which all 24 participants participated.  Pointing accuracy increased over number of trials in both genders, F (2, 22) =12.98, p<0.003.  No significant difference was found between genders in the 2-turn VR task, F (2, 22) =0.065, p=0.801.
 A virtual reality task involving 4 turns was then run with 6 males and 7 females.  Pointing accuracy increased over trial in both genders, F (2, 11) =20.45, p<0.002.  No significant difference was found between genders in the virtual reality 4-turn task, F (2, 11) =0.236, p=0.636.  The means were in the predicted direction, with males scoring more accurately on average (M=30.00, SD=10.90) than females (M=37.23, SD=10.1)(see adjoining table for full comparison of pointing error means by gender).
 Note. Lower scores are better.

The final virtual reality task was a 6-turn task completed by 6 males and 5 females.  Pointing accuracy was shown to increase over trial in total participants, F (2, 9) = 16.26, p< .004.  No significant difference was found between gender in the 6-turn task, F (2, 9) =0.521, p=0.489. Means were in the predicted direction in the 6-turn task, with males scoring more accurately over the five trials on average (M=40.37, SD=16.44) than females (M=57.96, SD=18.01).
Comparison of trials to criterion by gender
 Criterion was reached in every trial by scoring a pointing error less than 20 degrees away from the correct answer.  An independent t-test was run to see how males and females varied in respect to the number of trials it took for each gender to reach criterion.
 6 males and 7 females participated in a 4-turn virtual reality task.  No significant difference was found between gender, t (11) =1.43, p= .182. Means were in the predicted direction, with males reaching criterion earlier in the trials (M=2.00, SD=0.894) than females (M=2.86, SD=1.22).
 In the 6 turn virtual reality task, 6 males and 5 females scored below a 20-degree difference at some point over the five trials.  No significant difference was found between gender, t (9) = 1.50, p=0.166.  Means were in the predicted direction, with males reaching the criterion in the 6-turn route earlier in the trials (M=2.50, SD=1.52) than females (M=3.80, SD=1.30).
Comparison of pointing error in initial trials
 The initial trial (first) in the real world, virtual reality 2-turn, 4-turn, and 6-turn was analyzed using an independent variable t-test in order to discover any difference between gender and the first trial.  No significant difference existed between males and females in the first trial in the real world, t (22) =-0.519, p=0.609.  No significant difference was found between males in females in the virtual reality 2-turn task, t (22) =0.161, p=0.873.  No significant difference was found between males and females in the virtual reality 4-turn task, t (11)
=-0.560, p=0.587.  There was no significant difference between males and females in the 6-turn task, t (9) =0.142, p<0.890.

 The hypothesis of this study postulated that an elimination of experiential skill, through the use of virtual reality, will lower the 20-degree average difference present in Lawton’s previous study (1997).  It was hypothesized that there would still be a difference between genders, but the disparity between males and females would decline.  The data analysis revealed some overall significant results, as well as some data that suggested differences, but had no significant results specifically supporting the hypothesis.
 Both sets of results, the significant findings, and the means in the predicted direction could lead research in the field of virtual reality and/or wayfinding.  This discussion will consist primarily of the results concerning experiential skill, gender, pointing error in each set of trials, and the interplay between these variables.
 As reviewed in the results section, there were two major statistical analyses conducted with the data.  The statistical analyses consisted of a full model mixed analysis of variance (MANOVA), and an independent variable t-test.  Both classifications of analyses unveiled significant findings in various areas.

Experiential Skill
 In order to control for experiential skill as a confounding variable, each subject was given a pencil and paper survey to report their computer experience (Computer Experience Questionnaire), their immersive attentional skill (Immersive Tendencies Questionnaire), and their interaction with the virtual environment (Presence Questionnaire)
 Results taken from the Computer Experience Questionnaire were general game experience, Doom-similar game experience, and virtual reality experience.  The general game experience provided a significant difference in favor of males.  This is due to the larger amount of time males spend playing video games over females.  This finding was expected and has been shown numerous times before, (i.e. Lawton, 1997).
 A more specific piece of data involved in video game playing deals with each subject’s experience involving the video game Doom, and those similar to it.  This game specifically confounds navigational studies as the video game holds the same view point as that of both Lawton’s study (1997) and the present study: the viewpoint of first person in a maze based environment.  This result approached a significant difference supporting the theory that males play these types of games more than females.  One reason why Doom-experience did not reach significance would be the large standard deviation, as males generally were very experienced in the game, or only a “one time” player of the video game.
 The final results extracted from the Computer Experience Questionnaire deal with experience involving virtual reality.  No significant difference was shown between males and females, as suggested in the hypothesis.  Both means represented an experience level of knowledge about virtual reality, scoring in the 3-4 range of a Likert scale, signifying personal observational knowledge (see Appendix C, question #13).  In fact, the scores might not have even been as high if not for the participants’ experience as students in introductory psychology courses at Saint Anselm College, where they get a chance to view and even experience virtual reality on a personal level.  The absence of a significant difference involving virtual reality experience is most likely due to the low prevalence of this equipment in the normative population.  This was exactly why virtual reality was chosen to conduct the experiment.  By having a technical device that shows relative inexperience by both males and females, a better judgement of actual wayfinding results can be analyzed without the prior confounds involving video game experience.
 The next self-report each subject filled out was an Immersive Tendencies Questionnaire.  The questions helped to deal with how involved, focused, and immersed a person can get in an environment.  No significant differences were found on any of the scales of the questionnaire, regarding, total immersion, focus, or involvement.   The fact that females and males scored similar on the questionnaires suggests that both females and males become equally involved and focused in their attentional skills regarding such stimuli as television, movies, and books.
The application to virtual reality involves the concept of imagination and creativity.  Both males and females were equally able to become involved thanks in part to their imaginative abilities.  These imaginative qualities help each participant feel more relaxed in the virtual environment, allowing their focus to shift to the navigational task at hand.  They are not looking at the environment from the aspect of an observer, but from that of a participant in the environment.  While this test does not measure to what degree they are involved, the major factor lies in the relative equality of both males and females to feel immersed, therefore controlling another confounding variable.
 The final survey each subject took was the Presence Questionnaire.  This self-report looked to measure each participant’s presence in the virtual reality environment, that is, how much control each subject perceived to have, how natural the environment seemed to feel, the interface quality, which spoke to how well each subject could focus on the task and not the actual equipment, i.e. the HMD, and the questionnaire also measured the total presence.
 There was no significant difference between the total presence of males versus females.  Both genders felt equally present in the virtual environment, suggesting that the virtual environment was incomparable to any of the video games that males had logged more time on, as shown through general video game experience.  It would be assumed that males would have been more present given their prior experience with video games, especially Doom, which patterned the virtual maze well.  The lack of a significant difference regarding total presence helps separate the virtual environment as a biased experiential environment from that of Lawton’s video game world (1997), and therefore helps to control experiential skill as a confounding variable.
 No significant difference was found between males and females regarding both perceived control of the environment, as well as interface quality.  Similar to the explanation above, due to the inexperience of both gender groups in virtual reality, their perceptions about the amount of control and the interface quality parallel each other.
 A significant difference does exist for females regarding how natural the environment felt (p<0.04).  One reason why females’ virtual experience seemed more natural might lead back to video game experience.  If females spent less time interacting with video games, then when the female participants would put on the HMD and enter the virtual interactive environment, that environment might feel more realistic.  Conversely, if males spent more time, as they do, interacting with video games, then the virtual environment might not seem as natural, as they are more accustomed to viewing such an environment, or at least a similar setup.  So, experience viewing computer generated worlds in general might have spoken to males’ ability to not perceive the environment as that natural, or to not perceive their movements and actions that interacted with the environment to feel as natural as did females.

Gender and Turn in Wayfinding
 A mixed model of analysis of variance was used to score the data involving gender and pointing error in each set of trials, whether it was in the real world, a 2-turn virtual reality route, a 4-turn virtual route, or a 6-turn virtual route.
 A significant difference was found over a five trial span for each task, from the real world route to the virtual reality routes.  Each task showed a learning and adaptation curve for both genders leading to a lower pointing error as trials increased.  It has been demonstrated elsewhere (Lawton, 1997; Baenninger & Newcombe, 1989) that pointing accuracy will increase over time, and the present study is no different.  What this suggests is the validation of virtual reality as a functional tool in cognitive visuo-spatial tasks.  This adaptation by all the participants was through each task, up to the most complicated 6–turn virtual reality route.
 No significant difference was found between gender and pointing accuracy over the five trials in the real world 1-turn practice route.  This finding is the result of the simplicity of the task, as one turn was not enough to cause enough disorientation to allow for wayfinding skills to be effectively utilized.  The real world task was meant as a practice task only, to help the participant become familiar with the goal of the experiment, as well as the equipment used.  The difference in gender might exist because there is a legitimate wayfinding skill that allows males to perform better on more difficult tasks than females.  The difference might also exist because males use orientation strategies (the cardinal directions; position of the sun in the sky) and females use route strategies (use of landmarks to provide a description) (Ward, Newcombe, & Overton, 1986).
 There was also no significant difference between males and females in the virtual reality 2-turn practice route.  This was also due to the simplicity, and was expected to yield no difference.  The main purpose of the virtual reality 2-turn task was to familiarize the participant with the virtual environment in general, as well as with the virtual reality equipment.  After completion of the virtual reality 2-turn  only, were the participants allowed to go on to the 4-turn or 6-turn task in order to test the hypothesis.
 In the 4-turn virtual reality task, no significant difference was found between males and females and their respected pointing accuracy.  A closer inspection of the data did reveal means in the predicted direction in the 4-turn route.  As hypothesized, males did perform better in the task (7.2 degrees more accurate), but more importantly, at an average below Lawton’s 20 degrees. The means do support the hypothesis stated, but are not of a significant manner.  This reason could do with the large standard deviation in each gender.  With only six males and seven females participating in the 4-turn task the standard deviation was quite high, even though the means were predicted.  A higher population of participants would effectively lower the standard deviation and lead to a more significant difference, with males performing better on the task.
 There was no significant difference in the 6-turn virtual reality route, leading to a similar discussion.  As in the 4-turn task, the means were in the predicted direction, that is, males were more accurate on average than females over the five trials.  In fact, the divergence between males and females was even greater, with males scoring, on average, 17.5 degrees better than females.  But, with only six males and five females participating in this specific task, the standard deviation was too large to allow for a significant difference to be extracted.  With an increase in subject population, it is expected this deviation would decrease and thus raise the difference to significant levels.  For in fact, this pointing error difference between genders of 17.5 is only 2.5 degrees off of Lawton’s own study where 20 degrees was the difference (1997).   This larger degree of difference is related to the increase in turns.  While both males and females were less accurate with their scores in the 6-turn task, females’ scores increased at an unparalleled rate to the males’ scores. As suggested, males scored more accurately on the 4-turn task in virtual reality with less of a disparity between males and females than in Lawton’s study.  The accuracy did not stay parallel when the participants were in the 6-turn task, suggesting that the 2-turn increase between tasks caused greater confusion, especially for the females.  Another explanation could be that the random participants that took part in the 6-turn task did not have the wayfinding skills of those participants in the 4-turn task.  One way to eliminate this possibility would be to have each subject take both the 4-turn task and the 6-turn task, and analyze their individual scores for each of those routes.
Trials to criterion by gender
 The final analysis run on this data was an independent variable t-test between gender and trials to criterion.  Each subject had five trials to reach criterion: in this study it was 20 degrees.  Once they scored within 20 degrees of the correct answer, the task was finished.  Though not initially hypothesized, it was thought that there might be a gender difference in the number of trials it took for males and females to reach that 20-degree mark.  No significant differences were found between gender.  With only a 0.86 difference in means, the standard deviation was too high to reveal significant figures.  With an increase in population size, as stated before, significant findings might be yielded.
Comparison of pointing error in initial trials
 A specific view of the initial trial of each task was taken in order to compare the differences between males and females regarding their first speculation as to where the start of the task was.  The hope would be that each subject’s initial reaction would most clearly define his or her true wayfinding ability, eliminating experience with the virtual route as a confounding variable.  No significant difference was found between males and females regarding the real world 1-turn, the virtual reality 2-turn, 4-turn, or 6-turn task. These results suggest wayfinding could relate to experience, and only function effectively as a learned behavior. Another explanation could lie in the fact that males and females were still somewhat distracted by the complication of the 4-turn and 6-turn maze. Virtual reality may cause enough discombobulating distraction as to necessitate repeated trials to be run.
 Both the significant and non-significant results from this study explain much.  The adaptation and learning over trials by both genders helps validate virtual reality as a functional learning device, and strengthens the support for its use as a psychological tool in the future.
 The means in the predicted direction involving pointing error and gender, though not significant, do open a doorway towards a better test of gender differences involving wayfinding using technology that is less gender biases than those devices provided by Lawton (1997).  An increase in sample size alone, with no other editing to the present study would suggest significance and therefore eliminate some of the experiential skill that has been biasing these such visuo-spatial cognitive tasks for years.
 This study applies to some very basic issues involving navigation and direction, and can also have an impact on the future of virtual reality in cognitive psychology.  These variables are an important form of human functioning in everyday life, and are worthy of immense amounts of future study and research.  This present study contributes a small portion of the understanding of wayfinding, navigation, and virtual reality’s influence on psychological research.

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differences in indoor wayfinding.  Environment and Behavior, 28, 204-219.
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Appendix A

 All psychological research at Saint Anselm College is conducted according to strict ethical principles outlined by the American Psychological Association and is in full compliance with Federal law.  The Department of Health and Human Services, for example, specifies that informed consent must be given prior to research studies, that is, “…the knowing consent of an individual or his legally authorized representative so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice without undue inducement or any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, or other form of constraint or coercion.”

 Simply put, this means when you participate in any research study, you will be given a clear explanation of the procedures involved.  You may ask for clarification either before or during the procedure, and you may terminate the procedures at any time.

 The experiment you have signed up for involves a task using virtual reality equipment and computer technology, as well as the completion of three self-surveys about your general computer experience.  At this point, it should be stated that no disguised procedures will be used in this study, and the right to withdraw from this and all studies is at the discretion of the participant.  It is only asked that each you participate seriously and to the best of you ability.  Due to the immersive qualities of virtual reality environment, a feeling of vertigo, even nausea could be incurred by anyone.  If you feel disorientation or any feelings of discomfort at any time, tell me, and the experiment will be paused until you are feeling better.  If you wish to stop because of this disorientation, you may do so at any time. Also, due to the enclosed environment that a head mounted display presents, if you feel at any time uncomfortable, short of breath, or in any way claustrophobic, please inform me, and the headset will be removed, and the experiment paused until you are feeling comfortable again, or wish to terminate the experiment.  Thank you again for your time commitment and your willingness to participate.
 After having carefully read and considered the foregoing, I consent to participate in research activities according to the terms heretofore enumerated.

Date__________________________ Signature_______________________________

Class/Student I.D. #_____________________Other___________________________

Appendix B

Debriefing Statement

 The navigational task you just completed, along with the three surveys you filled out investigated a gender difference in visual-spatial tasks presented in a 3-D virtual reality environment.  My experiment varied from previous work in substituting the 3-D environment in which you were just involved, for a similar maze constructed from the same program that created the popular computer game Doom.  It was hypothesized that by eliminating such a male biased environment as a computer game, that a smaller, but equally significant difference could be found between genders.  The information you have provided is intended solely for this project, and will be kept strictly confidential. It is also asked that you withhold from discussing this study and your results with friends or other participants, until all the participants have completed the study.  If you have any questions involving the virtual world, surveys, or results, feel free to contact me at:    Chad Kelleher, Box 1766, 100 St. Anselm Dr. Manchester NH, 03102-1310.  Thank you again for your participation.
        Chad L. Kelleher

Appendix C
Computer Experience Questionnaire
(based upon Rizzo et. al.)
I. Computer Experience

1. Do you own a personal computer?  Y  N
2. How many hours per day do you use a computer?  Personal____   Academics_____
3. On average, how many hours a week do you spend on a computer?___
1- 0-5 hrs
2- 5-10 hrs
3- 10-20 hrs
4- 20-40 hrs
5- 40+ hrs
4. Indicate the average number of hours a week you do the following computer activities.
a. word processing ___
b. games playing ___
c. surfing the Internet ___
d. emailing ___
e. other ___
5. How many emails do you send a day? ____
6. How many computer courses have you taken?  ___
7. How would you rate your computer competency? ___
1- completely inexperienced
2- inexperienced
3- somewhat experienced/inexperienced
4- experienced
5- very experienced
8. Do you play video games?  Y  N
9. Are you good at computer games?  Y  N
10. Have you ever played the game Doom?  Y  N
If so, how many hours per week? ___
How many hours (approximately) have you played in the last 2 years___
11. Have you ever played the game Quake?  Y  N
If so, how many hours per week? ___
How many hours (approximately) have you played in the last 2 years___
12. Please list any other video or computer games that you play regularly and how many hours per week.

13. How would you rate your knowledge/experience of virtual reality?  (please circle all   that apply)
a. never heard of virtual reality
b. seen virtual reality on television/movies
c. read about virtual reality in various literature
d. observed virtual reality in real life, but never participated
e. played a virtual reality game before
f.    participated in construction and manipulation of virtual reality
g.   master of virtual reality
14. What are the three (3) web sites you spend the most time at?

II. Activities Rating List

Please rate the following activities on a 1 to 7 scale with 1= never participated and 7= participate more than once a week.

    1   2   3   4   5   6   7

1.  Ice hockey   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
2.  Soccer    1   2   3   4   5   6   7
3.  Squash   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
4.  Darts     1   2   3   4   5   6   7
5.  Archery   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
6.  Hunting   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
7.  Ski Jumping  1   2   3   4   5   6   7
8.  Juggling   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
9  Glass blowing  1   2   3   4   5   6   7
10.  Carpentry   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
11.  Using a compass  1   2   3   4   5   6   7
12.  Tennis   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
13.  Ping Pong      1   2   3   4   5   6   7
14.  Dancing   1   2   3   4   5   6   7
15.  Roller Hockey  1   2   3   4   5   6   7
16.  Drawing/Drafting  1   2   3   4   5   6   7

Appendix D
 (Witmer & Singer, Version 3.01, September 1996)

 Indicate your preferred answer by marking an "X" in the appropriate box of the seven point scale.   Please consider the entire scale when making your responses, as the intermediate levels may apply.  For example, if your response is once or twice, the second box from the left should be marked.  If your response is many times but not extremely often, then the sixth (or second box from the right) should be marked.

1.  Do you easily become deeply involved in movies or tv dramas?


2.  Do you ever become so involved in a television program or book that people have problems getting your attention?


3.  How mentally alert do you feel at the present time?


4.  Do you ever become so involved in a movie that you are not aware of things happening around you?


5.  How frequently do you find yourself closely identifying with the characters in a story line?


6.  Do you ever become so involved in a video game that it is as if you are inside the game rather than moving a joystick and watching the screen?


7.  What kind of books do you read most frequently?  (CIRCLE ONE ITEM ONLY!)

Spy novels   Fantasies   Science fiction

Adventure novels  Romance novels  Historical novels

Westerns   Mysteries   Other fiction

Biographies   Autobiographies  Other non-fiction

8.  How physically fit do you feel today?


9.  How good are you at blocking out external distractions when you are involved in something?


10.  When watching sports, do you ever become so involved in the game that you react as if you were one of the players?


11.  Do you ever become so involved in a daydream that you are not aware of things happening around you?


12.  Do you ever have dreams that are so real that you feel disoriented when you awake?


13.  When playing sports, do you become so involved in the game that you lose track of time?


14.  How well do you concentrate on enjoyable activities?


15.  How often do you play arcade or video games?  (OFTEN should be taken to mean every day or every two days, on average.)


16.  Have you ever gotten excited during a chase or fight scene on TV or in the movies?


17.  Have you ever gotten scared by something happening on a TV show or in a movie?


18.  Have you ever remained apprehensive or fearful long after watching a scary movie?


19.  Do you ever become so involved in doing something that you lose all track of time?


20.  On average, how many books do you read for enjoyment in a month?


21.  Do you ever get involved in projects or tasks, to the exclusion of other activities?


22.  How easily can you switch attention from the activity in which you are currently involved to a new and completely different activity?

NOT SO                  FAIRLY  QUITE

23.  How often do you try new restaurants or new foods when presented with the opportunity?


24.  How frequently do you volunteer to serve on committees, planning groups, or other civic or social groups?


25.  How often do you try new things or seek out new experiences?


26.  Given the opportunity, would you travel to a country with a different culture and a different language?

NEVER                 MAYBE             ABSOLUTELY

27.  Do you go on carnival rides or participate in other leisure activities (horse back riding, bungee jumping, snow skiing, water sports) for the excitement of thrills that they provide?

NEVER          OCCASIONALLY             OFTEN

28.  How well do you concentrate on disagreeable tasks?


29.  How often do you play games on computers?


30.  How many different video, computer, or arcade games have you become reasonably good at playing?


31.  Have you ever felt completely caught up in an experience, aware of everything going on and completely open to all of it?


32.  Have you ever felt completely focused on something, so wrapped up in that one activity that nothing could distract you?


33.  How frequently do you get emotionally involved (angry, sad, or happy) in news stories that you see, read, or hear?


34.  Are you easily distracted when involved in an activity or working on a task?


 Scoring Instructions

 Simply score the boxes for each question from left to right beginning with one and increasing in value to the box the subject has marked, and the number of that box becomes the score.  The subscale scores are the sum of the scores for each subscale item.  There is no weighting of items or subscales.  The questionnaire total and subscales are comprised as follows:

 Total:  Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
 ITQ-Focus:  Items 1, 3, 8, 9, 13, 16, & 19.
 ITQ-Involvement:  Items 2, 4, 5, 11, 12, 17, & 18.
 ITQ-Games:  Items 6 & 15.

 New questions have been added to the questionnaire, but should not be added to the total or subscales as they are just beginning to be investigated.  The new (unanalyzed) questions are scored the same as the other questions.  None of the new questions seem to require reverse scoring.

Appendix E
(Witmer & Singer, Vs. 3.0, Nov. 1994)

Characterize your experience in the environment, by marking an "X" in the appropriate box of the 7-point scale, in accordance with the question content and descriptive labels.  Please consider the entire scale when making your responses, as the intermediate levels may apply.  Answer the questions independently in the order that they appear.  Do not skip questions or return to a previous question to change your answer.


1.  How much were you able to control events?


2.  How responsive was the environment to actions that you initiated (or performed)?


3.  How natural did your interactions with the environment seem?


4.  How much did the visual aspects of the environment involve you?


5.  How much did the auditory aspects of the environment involve you?


 6.  How natural was the mechanism which controlled movement through the environment?


7.  How compelling was your sense of objects moving through space?


8.  How much did your experiences in the virtual environment seem consistent with your real world experiences?


9.  Were you able to anticipate what would happen next in response to the actions that you performed?


10.  How completely were you able to actively survey or search the environment using vision?


11.  How well could you identify sounds?


12.  How well could you localize sounds?


13.  How well could you actively survey or search the virtual environment using touch?


14.  How compelling was your sense of moving around inside the virtual environment?


15.  How closely were you able to examine objects?


16.  How well could you examine objects from multiple viewpoints?


17.  How well could you move or manipulate objects in the virtual environment?


18.  How involved were you in the virtual environment experience?


19.  How much delay did you experience between your actions and expected outcomes?


20.  How quickly did you adjust to the virtual environment experience?

21.  How proficient in moving and interacting with the virtual environment did you feel at the end of the experience?


22.  How much did the visual display quality interfere or distract you from performing assigned tasks or required activities?

                            SOMEWHAT   TASK PERFORMANCE

23.  How much did the control devices interfere with the performance of assigned tasks or with other activities?


24.  How well could you concentrate on the assigned tasks or required activities rather than on the mechanisms used to perform those tasks or activities?


25.  How completely were your senses engaged in this experience?


26.  To what extent did events occurring outside the virtual environment distract from your experience in the virtual environment?


 27.  Overall, how much did you focus on using the display and control devices instead of the virtual experience and experimental tasks?


28.  Were you involved in the experimental task to the extent that you lost track of time?


29.  How easy was it to identify objects through physical interaction; like touching an object, walking over a surface, or bumping into a wall or object?


30.  Were there moments during the virtual environment experience when you felt completely focused on the task or environment?


31.  How easily did you adjust to the control devices used to interact with the virtual environment?


32.  Was the information provided through different senses in the  virtual environment (e.g., vision, hearing, touch) consistent?


 Scoring Instructions

 Simply score the boxes for each question from left to right beginning with one and increasing in value to the box the subject has marked, and the number of that box becomes the score.  Some of the questions have reversed response anchors, and are scored so the left-most box receives a seven and the rest decrease in value.  The subscale scores are the sum of the scores for each subscale item.  There is no weighting of items or subscales.  The questionnaire total and subscales are comprised as follows:

 Total:  Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19+, 20, 21, 22+, 23+, 24.
 PQ-Involved/Control:  Items 1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 14, 18, 19+, 20, & 21.
 PQ-Natural:  Items 3, 6, & 8.
 PQ-Interface Quality:  Items 22+, 23+, & 24.
 PQ-Auditory*:  Items 5, 11, 12.
 PQ-Haptic*:  Items 13 & 17.
 PQ-Resolution*:  Items 15 & 16.

The last three subscales listed for the PQ are marked with an asterisk (*) because they have yet to be used in analyses, but are being retained on a theoretical basis.  Since there have been no haptic or auditory interfaces, nor any differences in resolution to judge, those items have been scored as zero.  Items marked with a plus (+) have to be reverse scored (see above) in order to contribute to the subscale and overall totals.

 New questions have been added to the questionnaire, but should not be added to the total or subscales as they are just beginning to be investigated.  The new (unanalyzed) questions are scored the same as the other questions.  None of the new questions seem to require reverse scoring.

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