Aspects: Hormonal Route to Map Reading; Allan Pease Explains to Jo Ind What Makes Men Men and Women Women

By Ind, Jo | The Birmingham Post (England), February 25, 1999 | Go to article overview

Aspects: Hormonal Route to Map Reading; Allan Pease Explains to Jo Ind What Makes Men Men and Women Women


Ind, Jo, The Birmingham Post (England)


I'm on the way to interview Allan Pease about his book, Why Men Don't Listen & Women Can't Read Maps.

Strangely enough, I get lost. Why? Because the taxi driver can't read the map.

I am about to do it, but the driver won't let me. He takes the map out of my hands, tries to read it for a few seconds and then gives up, asking for directions from his base over the radio.

Unfortunately the chap at base does not know the right way either.

I explain this to Allan when I arrive.

"Was he a man?" asks Allan.

"Yes," I reply.

"He was probably gay," he says.

Allan is not a scientist. He is an author and after-dinner speaker who has been dubbed Mr Body Language because of his multi-million seller of the same name (but without the Mr).

He describes himself as a "born achiever" who began his career at the age of ten selling rubber sponges door-to-door and was an award-winning direct salesman as a teenager.

Today he and his wife Barbara run a business from Tanworth-in-Arden, Warwickshire, called Pease Training International, which offers books, videos and audio training programmes to individuals and businesses.

He is without doubt an entertainer and successful communicator. What Allan communicates is a way of thinking about people based on the notion that it's all in the DNA.

He believes "that we are more a product of our biology than the victims of social stereotypes" and looks to hormones and the way the brain is wired to explain the way we behave.

I think there are many more obvious explanations as to why a male taxi driver can't read a map than that he is gay.

My theory is that his practice is to follow directions over the radio because it saves time as he can do that while he is driving along.

He therefore is not in the habit of stopping the car and looking at a map. His preferred way of operating is the one he is used to, so it is easier for him to ask for directions than study a diagram.

Allan thinks it's to do with the brain.

"Reading maps and understanding where you are relies on spatial ability," he says.

"Brain scans show that spatial ability is located in the right front brain for men and boys, and is one of a male's strongest abilities.

"It is developed from ancient times to allow men, the hunters, to calculate the speed, movement and distance of prey, work out how fast they had to run to catch their targets and know how much force they needed to kill their lunch with a rock or a spear.

"Iowa State University professor of psychology Dr Camilla Benbow scanned the brains of more than a million boys and girls to study their spatial ability and reported that differences between the sexes were already striking by the age of four.

"Spatial ability is not strong in women and girls because being able to chase animals and find the way home was never part of woman's job description.

"This is why many women have trouble reading a map or street directory."

According to Allan a gay man is a female brain in a man's body and a lesbian is a male brain in a woman's body.

"Brian Gladue of North Dakota State University has shown that heterosexual men have better spatial skills than homosexual men and lesbians have better spatial skills than heterosexual woman," says Allan.

So if my taxi driver cannot read a map, the chances are that his brain is wired in the female way and therefore that he is gay. Hmmmm, interesting, especially as the same taxi driver rang to ask if I wanted a lift back and wanted to know if I ever went clubbing and gave me his name and the number of his mobile should I ever want a lift again.

Maybe it was his feminine and non-map-reading brain being attracted to my masculine navigational skills. I find reading maps easy, but there again I probably would because I have got dark brown hair. …

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