EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

Is it really different for women walking at night than men? This study has new evidence

Feb 6, 2024, 6:04 PM | Updated: Feb 7, 2024, 8:34 am

Study results shown in an image that was given to participants. A heat map shows participant select...

Study results shown in an image that was given to participants. A heat map shows participant selections indicating where they would be looking if walking in the photo setting. (Brigham Young University)

(Brigham Young University)

PROVO — The findings from a recent study from Brigham Young University concluded that walking at night is a widely different experience for men and women. The study was published on Tuesday.

The university issued a news release stating that the results showed clear evidence of “constant environmental scanning” that women conduct as they walk in the dark. Multiple images were published with the study showing a darkly lit photo of a pathway, and indications of heat points, which represent a line of sight for the person walking.

“This project has been a fantastic conversation starter to bring awareness to lived experiences, particularly of women in this case,” co-author Alyssa Baer said.

The study was led by health professor Robbie Chaney, and co-authored by Ida Tovar and Baer, BYU undergraduates at the beginning of the study and have now moved on past graduate school.

It used nearly 600 individuals, 56% women and 44% men. Each participant was instructed to look through 16 images of campus areas at Utah Valley University, Westminster College, the University of Utah and BYU. Participants were asked to imagine themselves walking through the photo. Using a Qualtrics heat map, they were then asked to click on areas of the image that stood out the most to them.

The data collected was combined into each photo, showing men tend to focus on the path or fixed object, like a light or garbage can, while women typically scanned the perimeter, focusing on bushes or dark areas next to a path.

“The resulting heat maps represent perhaps what people are thinking or feeling or doing as they are moving through these spaces,” Chaney said. “Before we started the study, we expected to see some differences, but we didn’t expect to see them so contrasting. It’s really visually striking.”

Study results shown in an image that was given to participants. A heat map shows participant selections indicating where they would be looking if walking in the photo setting. (Brigham Young University)

The study specifies the results “may be reflective of (women’s) broad experience with fear of crime that highlights a greater fear of crime, particularly personally violent or sexual crimes resulting from stalking, prowling, or loitering in poorly lit areas.”

“My hope is that in having concrete data, we are able to start conversations that lead to meaningful action,” Baer said.

“Why can’t we live in a world where women don’t have to think about these things? It’s heartbreaking to hear of things women close to me have dealt with,” Chaney said. “It would be nice to work towards a world where there is no difference between the heat maps in these sets of images.”

KSL 5 TV Live

Education & Schools

Lauren Rives, a senior at the University of Utah, speaks at a demonstration against HB261 at the U....

Tim Vandenack, KSL.com

University of Utah highlights positive impacts of equity, diversity and inclusion programs

The University of Utah has produced a new 'scorecard' highlighting the positive impacts of equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives that face revamping due to new state legislation.

2 days ago

Natalie Cline is pictured. Utah State Board of Education member Cline is facing public scrutiny for...

Mark Jones

Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline announces she is seeking re-election

In a post on Facebook Monday, Utah State Board of Education member Natalie Cline announced she is seeking re-election. 

3 days ago

Andrew Holmes, a West Jordan Middle School Teacher in his classroom using AI to teach students....

Kiersten Nunez

Empowering education: A Utah school district embraces AI in the classroom

In a forward-looking initiative, educators in the Jordan School District are incorporating artificial intelligence into their classrooms.

6 days ago

#BacontoPayson displayed on a cork board in Payson High School...

Brianna Chavez

Payson High School celebrates 40 years of Footloose, inviting Kevin Bacon to upcoming prom

Payson High students took to social media to campaign for Kevin Bacon to return to the school, 40 years after Footloose was released.

6 days ago

School board member Natalie Cline was the focus of a special school board meeting Wednesday, Feb. 1...

Larry D. Curtis and Lindsay Aerts, KSL TV

Utah Legislature formally censures school board member Natalie Cline

Utah's House has drafted a formal censure of Natalie Cline for her social media post of high school students on Feb. 6 that has drawn criticism from many of Utah's politicians.

7 days ago

BYU sign 09/09/22...

Eliza Pace

BYU receives $3.7 million grant for cybersecurity students to train for government jobs

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to Brigham Young University to train cybersecurity students for federal government positions. 

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Is it really different for women walking at night than men? This study has new evidence