Ambiguity in Acquiring Spatial Representation from Descriptions Compared to Depictions: The Role of Spatial Orientation

  • Holly A. Taylor
  • David H. Uttal
  • Joan Fisher
  • Marshall Mazepa
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2205)


Adults can make judgments about multiple spatial relations based on information gained from different kinds of input, including maps, descriptions, and through navigation [1]. However, factors such as spatial orientation influence performance. We investigated spatial orientation effects on learning from different media. In Experiment 1, participants learned a house from a map or a description. They then judged surrounding locations while imagining being in each room and they reconstructed the house. Participants who learned from a description performed worse on both tasks. Errors suggested they interpreted the term “in front” differently than intended [2]. Experiment 2 tested this hypothesis by examining two factors influencing interpretation of “in front”, specific interpretation instructions and orientation information. The orientation information influenced performance more than the explicit interpretation of “in front.” Taken together, the results indicate multiple influences on the spatial reference frame participants use to interpret spatial terms.

Key words

spatial descriptions reference frame spatial orientation map use spatial judgments perspective taking 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Holly A. Taylor
    • 1
  • David H. Uttal
    • 2
  • Joan Fisher
    • 2
  • Marshall Mazepa
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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