Have you ever been in a heated argument with your spouse/partner when one of you is parking the car? Studies have shown that males perform better in difficult parking situations such as a parallel or reverse park. The reasons for this are linked back to our visceral primal existence as hunters and nest defenders.

 The answer lies in spatial ability, which controls actions such as hand-eye coordination and the judgement of distance, depth, speed etc. According to Barbara & Allan Pease's book, Why men don't listen & women can't read maps, spatial ability is located in the right hemisphere of the brain for men and boys, whereas women and girls' spatial ability resides in both hemispheres. Due to the defined location of spatial ability in the right side of the male brain, judgements of motion can be readily accessed and actions such as reverse parking are made easier.

The reason men have better spacial ability is because of their ancient heritage as hunters, where accurate calculations of distance, size and momentum would heighten their chances of catching prey. For thousands of years males have calculated speed to chase food, identified whether to use a rock or spear to kill, and use space and geography as a means to find their way back to the tribe. But for every primitive man that spears a hog there are others who's spear missed and went hungry. For all the times the hunters made it back to the tribe, there were also times when someone got left behind and had to use their spacial ability to make it back, or perish in the wild. Therefore the acute sense of space the male brain holds is justified by the accumulated experiences of failures and successes of hunting that has offered the modern man many useful skills and abilities.

These hunting skills branch over into the mundane tasks of modern day life, reverse parking being the example here. The speed and angle at which the car reverses can be compared to a hunter aiming his spear at a moving object or even dodging an attack from a bear. The basis is that tasks such as reverse parking were not only learnt, but aided from an ancestry of hunters refining their spacial abilities.

The automobile can be an environment that is conducive of stress between couples resulting in an argument that can start or end the night on a bad note. Oftentimes neither sex can be satisfied with the others driving, resulting in a small comment that becomes a full blown argument. This is due to both sexes having different intentions when they drive. It is proven that women are safer drivers, their desire is to get safely from point A to point B. For men driving is more than that, they feel it is a test of their spacial ability where they subconsciously establish their performance is under scrutiny. This is why males take risks on the road and why males under 21 are often in fatal car accidents. It is no surprise that females can feel uncomfortable in the car of a male, even when he has things under control and isn't taking risks. So it's necessary that both parties understand each others strengths and weaknesses when driving to limit the argument that may develop.

This discomfort might also be felt by a male when a woman is driving or specifically speaking, reverse parking. The male will grow agitated as she might be reversing slower than he does or take more times. Any belittling remarks wouldn't help the driver and  encouragement might also be seen as snide. Interestingly, studies have shown that women actually outperform men in reverse parking in driving tests but do not show the same result in real life situations.

The notion that men are better at reverse parking may seem sexist, but it is hard to argue with thousands of years evolution in which males were hunters who relied on acute spacial ability. Women are better in other facets of driving, they can easily hold a conversation while driving where men cannot, this is similar to what was mentioned previously about brain hemispheres. A male might have a strong sense of space and direction but when this part of the brain is accessed, the part that controls speech is compromised. This is why you might have noticed that some males seem deaf when they drive.

Next time you're husband gets a little to close to the car behind when parking, understand that it's likely he has an accurate mental image of this gap and it's unlikely he'll need a warning. Or perhaps the next time your wife or girlfriend goes uncomfortably slow when she reverses into the parking spot, understand your brains or wired differently and you can avoid the stress of an automobile argument by retaining your opinions.