Human cognitive strategies vary across nations and cultures. However, it is unknown whether the cognitive strategies of nations are randomly distributed or whether groups of countries are clustered by similar cognitive profiles. Using a mobile-based virtual reality navigation task, we measured spatial navigation ability in more than 2.5 million people globally.
Using a clustering approach, we find that navigation ability is not smoothly distributed globally but clustered into five distinct yet geographically related groups of countries. Furthermore, the economic wealth of a nation (Gross Domestic Product per capita) was predictive of the average navigation ability of its inhabitants and gender inequality (Gender Gap Index) was predictive of the size of performance difference between males and females. Thus, cognitive abilities, at least for spatial navigation, are clustered according to economic wealth and gender inequalities globally.
This will not only inform cognitive assessment but also clinical assessment and educational approaches in the future.
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