The development of compass orientation in children
Children between the ages of 4 - 16 years were tested for a sense of
direction using the 'chair experiment'. Results revealed that a sense
of direction was present in older children. However. the relationship
between the development of a sense of direction and age appeared more
complex than originally thought. Children under 11 years of age were
unable to judge direction significantly in the chair experiment. It was
suggested that this inability could be related to anatomical andlor
Sex differences in ability were analysed. Although both males and
females could significantly judge direction, female orientation was
significantlY better than that exhibited by males. Analysis of the
patterns of performance during the test revealed that male success was
apparently due to an ability to follow the turning of the chair. with
only the first estimate exhibiting significant ability. Females.
although they probably followed the turning of the chair initially,
showed a second peak of significant ability in the latter estimates.
Whilst wearing a magnet. this second peak was not observed.
Magnetic manipulations carried out on females aged between 11 - 18
years revealed that their ability to judge direction was based on an
ability to use the earth's magnetic field to judge direction. However.
this relationship was not straightforward. Both the polarity of the
magnet and the bed orientation of the subject had an affect on ability
to judge direction.
Bus experiments were also used to test for a sense of direction.
Subjects were aged between 16 - 20 years. Half the subjects were
blindfolded and half were sighted. Results revealed that feBBles,
whether blindfolded or sighted, relied on the earth's magnetic field
when judging direction and exhibited disruption of ability whilst
wearing a magnet. Kales apparently required sight and an unaltered
magnetic field to judge direction. Thus, if sighted and wearing a
magnet, or if blindfolded and in an unaltered magnetic field, males were
unable to judge direction. Although male ability in the chair
experiment did not seem to be based on an ability to use the earth's
magnetic field to judge direction, the bus experiments suggested that
magnetism was involved in their ability and this required further