Men and women see the night differently, study finds (photos)

Men and women view the same spaces differently at night, according to a recent study published in the journal Violence and Gender.

The experiment was conducted by asking college students to look at photos of paths on their campus at night and "imagine themselves walking through these areas and to click on the area(s) of the image that stood out the most to them."

The researchers then used this data to create heat maps, showing collective perceptions of safety. By comparing the heat maps generated by male and female participants, the researchers could identify and analyze differences in how men and women perceive safety and risk on campus.

Researchers found that women tend to be vigilant of their surroundings off the path, like dark areas or bushes, indicative of a heightened fear of personal and sexual crimes. Men, on the other hand, focus more on the path ahead. The disparity suggests that women's experiences and fears of crime significantly influence their perception of safety.

The researchers said the stress from having to be vigilant about threats on a daily basis impacts women's physical, emotional, and social well-being, along with their sleep patterns and academic performance.

Robert A. Chaney, Alyssa Baer, and L. Ida Tovar.
Gender-Based Heat Map Images of Campus Walking Settings: A Reflection of Lived Experience.
Violence and Gender. ahead of print

See also: How Indian women use a safety pin to fight sexual harassment