Putting emotions in routes: the influence of emotionally laden landmarks on spatial memory
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The aim of this study was to assess how people memorize spatial information of emotionally laden landmarks along a route and if the emotional value of the landmarks affects the way metric and configurational properties of the route itself are represented. Three groups of participants were asked to watch a movie of a virtual walk along a route. The route could contain positive, negative, or neutral landmarks. Afterwards, participants were asked to: (a) recognize the landmarks; (b) imagine to walk distances between landmarks; (c) indicate the position of the landmarks along the route; (d) judge the length of the route; (e) draw the route. Results showed that participants who watched the route with positive landmarks were more accurate in locating the landmarks along the route and drawing the route. On the other hand, participants in the negative condition judged the route as longer than participants in the other two conditions and were less accurate in mentally reproducing distances between landmarks. The data will be interpreted in the light of the “feelings-as-information theory” by Schwarz (2010) and the most recent evidence about the effect of emotions on spatial memory. In brief, the evidence collected in this study supports the idea that spatial cognition emerges from the interaction between an organism and contextual characteristics.
We thank the two anonymous reviewers and Vivian Valentin (UC Santa Barbara) whose comments/suggestions helped improve and clarify this manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The corresponding author (i.e., Ruotolo, F.) declares that he has no conflict of interest. Co-authors M.H.G. Claessen and I.J.M. van der Ham declare that they have no conflict of interest.
The authors declare that all procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee (i.e., Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Utrecht University) and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
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