BYU study shows women feel unsafe walking in the dark

Feb 7, 2024, 6:00 PM | Updated: Feb 8, 2024, 7:06 am

Images from a new BYU study that shows how different the experience of walking home at night is for...

A new BYU study shows how different the experience of walking home at night is for women and men. (BYU News)

(BYU News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Men and women experience walking home in the dark very differently according to a new study from BYU.

Nearly 600 college-aged men and women were shown walking pathways at Utah Valley University, Westminster, BYU and the University of Utah. Each area was photographed during daytime and nighttime hours.

Then, the students were asked to mark where they would focus if they were walking the path.

What the BYU walking study found

The men focused on what was directly ahead of them. However, the women were much more focused on the peripheral, darker areas of the paths. One former student who worked on the project, Alyssa Baer, said they were shocked at the results.

Baer explained the motivation behind the study. 

“Any type of research like this, is really to say, how can that [prompt] future questions and future research to figure out what can we do about it to improve?” Baer said.

Additionally, Baer hopes the research will increase community awareness and prompt changes so women feel safer walking in the dark. 

“We wanted to kind of look at that through this lens of our female college students who are you know, on campus oftentimes late at night or early in the morning.”

According to the study authors, the data could be used by those who create college buildings and campuses, to make better environments.

 “How does lighting and then entrapment and treatment —being how open or closed office space is — how do those two things impact whether or not someone perceives an environment that they’re in?”

Baer said she was surprised at the stark difference in the reaction on gender. 

“I don’t think we expected there to be nearly this much variation or such that just stark contrast [between men and women],” Baer said. “So, for us, I think it really was that conversation starter of saying okay, ‘what else does this tell us?”

Other reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


A car is filled at a gas pump in Sandy on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. Utah gas prices are currently be...

Allessandra Harris Gurr

Utah gas prices below national average in time for summer season

Utah gas prices are below the national average price for gas and the prices are expected to stay that way over the summer.

2 hours ago

Vehicles travel on I-15 in Salt Lake City on June 16. Roughly 71 million people are expected to tra...

Adam Small

Nearly 71 million people expected to travel for the Fourth of July

Up to 71 million people are expected to be traveling for the Fourth of July this year through both driving and plane.

3 hours ago

The storm surge from Tropical Storm Alberto floods the streets in Surfside Beach, Texas, on Wednesd...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Flood watch issued for parts of Utah as tropical storm remnants arrive

Parts of Utah will be on a flood watch on June 21 as a tropical storm moves through the state. Flash flooding is also possible on Saturday.

6 hours ago

a 17-year-old boy is facing a charge of murder and 18 other felonies tied to a gang-related drive-b...

Pat Reavy, KSL.com

Teen faces 19 felonies in gang-related drive-by shooting death in Murray

A 17-year-old boy is facing 19 felony charges accusing him of participating in a drive-by shooting that left one dead and others injured.

14 hours ago

(Orem police Department)...

Esme Sanchez Estevez

Orem Police Department asking for help identifying an assault suspect

Officers ask for the public's help to identify the suspect who was accused of sexual assault that happened in the Orem Recreation Center.

15 hours ago

Image of Temple Mountain found on BLM land within Emery County, Utah. (Mike Coronella)...

Aimee Cobabe

Utah files lawsuit over BLM Public Lands Rule

In the lawsuit, Utah accuses the BLM of taking a "museum-like" approach to the state's public lands.

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

BYU study shows women feel unsafe walking in the dark