Researchers at the Queen Mary, University of London (where else?) used virtual reality scenarios to discover that gay men navigate in a similar ways to women:
Dr Rahman used virtual reality stimulations of two common tests of spatial learning and memory, designed by researchers at Yale University. In the Morris Water Maze test (MWM), participants found themselves in a virtual pool and had to escape as quickly as possible using spatial clues in the virtual room to find a hidden platform. In the Radial Arm Maze test (RAM), participants had to traverse eight ‘arms’ from a circular junction to find hidden rewards. Four of the arms contained a reward, four did not.
Dr Rahman and his research assistant, Johanna Koerting, found that during the MWM test gay men and straight women took longer to find the hidden platform than did straight men. However, both gay and straight men spent more of their “dwelling time” in the area where the hidden platform actually was, compared to straight and lesbian women.
Dr Rahman explains: “Not only did straight men get started on the MWM test more quickly than gay men and the two female groups, they also maintained that advantage throughout the test. This might mean that sexual orientation affects the speed at which you acquire spatial information, but not necessarily your eventual memory for that spatial information.