Research: Jokes About Women's Driving Makes Their Driving Worse

Confidence is tied to women's spatial abilities

Ever hear the one about the woman driver who backed her car out of the garage one morning? She forgot she'd backed it in the night before.


If you are prone to telling jokes about female drivers and happen to be around women who don't drive well, new research says maybe you should shut it. Jokes about women driving make them worse drivers.

(And we realize there is a contradictory statement in the paragraph above: If you are prone to making women driver jokes, being surrounded by females probably isn't a problem you deal with often.)

A study done jointly between the University of Warwick in the U.K. and the University of Georgia in the U.S. shows that women are less spatially aware (the ability to negotiate movement through space with confidence) than men, but a little dose of confidence-building can help make them better drivers.

"Our research suggests that by making a woman feel better about herself, she'll become better at spatial tasks – which in the real world means tasks such as parking the car or reading a map," said Dr. Zachary Estes, a psychology researcher at the University of Warwick who co-wrote the research paper. "So a little bit of confidence-boosting may go a long way when it comes to reversing the car into a tight spot."

The researchers tested their theories on spatial ability through a series of four computer-based experiments on 545 students in the U.S. The computer tasks asked women to perform problems that involved thinking about how to rotate an object, while simultaneously manipulating their confidence levels. Those who felt better about themselves did better on the task.

"Confidence is a key factor in how well women perform at this kind of task," Estes said. In other words, confident drivers are better drivers.

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