Constructing Cognitive Maps With Orientation Biases

  • Robert Lloyd
  • Rex Cammack
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 32)


The purpose of this research is to investigate cognitive maps constructed using different encoding processes. Different learning processes have been shown to produce cognitive maps with different characteristics. Two critical research issues are the fixed-orientation bias and the equiavailability principle. Previous research has indicated that studying a north-at-the-top cartographic map encodes a cognitive map biased in the orientation of the cartographic map. Such cognitive maps are images that have information in all parts of the map equally available. Other research has shown cognitive maps encoded by environmental navigation produced cognitive maps with no orientation bias. Subjects, however, had faster access to information in front of them than information behind them. These results suggested that exposure to a single versus multiple orientations of the spatial information explained the biases. Others have argued the two situations coincide with encoding the spatial information from secondary and primary sources. The current study considered five different learning experiences that were used to encode information about the same seven landmarks in a space. Encoding the information from three-dimensional spaces resulted in longer reaction times for an identification task. Although all learning experiences were secondary, some produced cognitive maps with orientation biases and some without. Learning experiences that provided multiple orientations eliminated an orientation bias. A single perspective oblique view learning experience appeared to produce a bias for front-back over left-right. Orientation-free higher-order cognitive maps, as described by Taylor and Tversky, could account for all these results.


Mental Rotation Oblique View Fixed Orientation Orientation Bias Route Description 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bryant, D., Tversky, B., and Franklin, N. (1992). Internal and external spatial frameworks for representing described scenes. Journal of Memory and Language 31, 74–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carpenter, P. and Just, M. (1986). Spatial ability: An information processing approach to psychometrics. In Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence (R. Sternberg, ed.), pp. 221–252. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  3. Conerway, V. (1991). The Effects of Complexity on the Mental Rotation of Map Images. Unpublished MA Thesis, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina.Google Scholar
  4. Evans, G. and Pezdek, K. (1980). Cognitive mapping: knowledge of real world distance and location information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory 6, 13–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Franklin, N., Tversky, B., and Coon, V. (1992). Switching points of view in spatial mental models. Memory and Cognition 20, 507–518.Google Scholar
  6. Goldberg, J., MacEachren, A., and Kotval, X. (1992). Mental image transformation in terrain map comparisons. Unpublished manuscript.Google Scholar
  7. Hintzman, D., O’Dell, C, and Arndt, D. (1981). Orientation in cognitive maps. Cognitive Psychology 13, 149–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Holmes, J. (1984). Cognitive processes used to recognize perspective three-dimensional map surfaces. M.A. Thesis, Department of Geography, University of South Carolina.Google Scholar
  9. Kahneman, D, Treisman, A. and Gibbs, B. (1992). The Reviewing of object files: object-specific integration of information. Cognitive Psychology 24, 175–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kosslyn, S. (1980) Image and Mind, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Kosslyn, S. and Koenig, O. (1992). Wet Mind, New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  12. Levine, M. Jankovic, I., and Palij, M. (1982). Principles of spatial problems solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 111, 157–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lloyd, R. (1982). A look at images. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 72, 532–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lloyd, R. (1989). Cognitive mapping: encoding and decoding information. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 79, 101–124.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lloyd, R. (1993). Cognitive processes and cartographic maps. In Behavior and Environment: Psychological and Geographical Approaches (T. Garling and R. Golledge, eds.), pp. 141–169. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science Publishers.Google Scholar
  16. Lloyd, R. and Hooper, H. (1991). Urban cognitive maps: computation and structure. The Professional Geographer 43, 15–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lloyd, R. and Steinke, T. (1984). Recognition of disoriented maps: the cognitive process. The Cartographic Journal 21, 55–59.Google Scholar
  18. Lowe, D. 1987. The viewpoint consistency constraint. International Journal of Computer Vision 1, 57–72.Google Scholar
  19. MacEachren, A. (1992). Learning spatial information from maps: can orientation-specificity be overcome? Professional Geographer, 44, 431–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Muehrcke, P. (1986). Map Use: Reading, Analysis, and Interpretation, Madison: JP Publications.Google Scholar
  21. Neisser, U. (1976). Cognition and Reality: Principles and Implications of Cognitive Psychology, San Francisco: Freeman.Google Scholar
  22. Presson, C. and Hazelrigg, M. (1984). Building spatial representations through primary and secondary learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 10, 716–722.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Presson, C, DeLange, N, and Hazelrigg, M. (1989). Orientation-specificity in spatial memory: what makes a path different from a map of a path? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 15, 887–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rice, K. (1990). Distorted prism maps: a recognition experiment (abstract) Cartographic Perspectives 4, 32.Google Scholar
  25. Sagi, D. and Julesz, B. 1985. “Where” and “what” in vision. Science, 228, 1217–1219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Shepard, R. (1978). The mental image. American Psychologist 33, 125–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Shepard, R. and Cooper, L. (1983). Mental Images and Their Transformations, Cambridge: M.I.T. Press.Google Scholar
  28. Shepard, R. and Hurwitz, S. 1984. Upward direction, mental rotation, and discrimination of left and right turns in maps. Cognition, 18, 161–193.Google Scholar
  29. Sholl, M. (1987). Cognitive maps as orienting schemata. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 13, 615–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Steinke, T. and Lloyd, R. (1983). Images of maps: a rotation experiment. The Professional Geographer 35, 455–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Taylor, H. and Tversky, B. (1992A). Descriptions and depictions of environments. Memory and Cognition 20, 483–496.Google Scholar
  32. Taylor, H. and Tversky, B. (1992B). Spatial mental models derived from survey and route descriptions. Journal of Memory and Language 31, 261–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Throndyke, P. and Hayes-Roth, B. (1982). Differences in spatial knowledge acquired from maps and navigation. Cognitive Psychology 14, 560–581.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Lloyd
    • 1
  • Rex Cammack
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations