Just Following Directions! The Effects of Gender on Direction Giving
Direction giving involves diverse cognitive processes such as creating a mental map, following the desired route and choosing the correct terminology to provide directions efficiently. Many perceived differences have been speculated in the speech of men and women, yet research on spontaneous direction giving differences based on gender is limited. This small-scale qualitative study uses Cognitive Discourse Analysis to investigate whether men and women differ in the frequency of usage of projective terms, cardinal directions, hedges, modal verbs, landmarks, serial orientation measures and distance indicators in route directions. The patterns emerging consistently through the results show that gender plays an important role in the provision of directions. Key results included a utilization of humor by women when direction giving, as well as a higher usage of landmarks and hedges than men. Key results contradicting previous findings showed no usage of cardinal directions by either gender, as well as the serial orientation marker ‘then’ being utilized more by women rather than men.