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Maps in the Head and Maps in the Hand: The interplay between external spatial representations and individual spatial abilities during navigation in a naturalistic environment
Linköping University, Department of Computer and Information Science.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The primary purpose of the current study was to investigate how individuals navigate in an unfamiliar environment while using a map. What are the dynamical processes transpiring when an agent navigates in the environment using a tool to his aid? The emphasis was more specifically on the dynamic interaction between agent and artifact that together worked according to the Principle of Ecological Assembly (PEA) (Clark, 2008) and how this dynamical interaction could be analyzed from a situated problem-solving perspective. Moreover, the fact that individuals rely on cognitive artifacts in different circumstances is a quite trivial statement, but the related and less scrutinized question concerns temporality of cognitive work – when does the process of ecological assembly emerge during a problem-solving situation? Using cognitive ethnography as methodological approach to investigate the aforementioned research question, 17 research participants took part in this study that took place at the campus area of UC San Diego. The participants were given a physical map that represents the UCSD campus, and were given the primary task to reach a target destination from their current location within the campus area. It was found that individual sense of direction predicted the probability with which the ecological assembly was initiated, supporting the underlying assumption that the formal probability (P) of ecological assembly in any given domain relies on a set of variables where individual proficiency at any given task is a continuous variable. The hypothesis was confirmed in conjunction with a set of peripheral but relevant and interesting findings regarding how individuals increase the cognitive congeniality (Kirsh, 1996) of their environment during thehighly interactive problem-solving activity. An unexpected finding was also that individuals relying primarily on route knowledge during navigation, rather than survey knowledge, more frequently spontaneously aligned the map in synchrony with the surrounding environment while navigating, suggesting a different registration process preference between map as pictorial external representation and the world.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 61 p.
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Applied Psychology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-71951ISRN: LIU-IDA/KOGVET-A--11/018--SEOAI: diva2:455650
Subject / course
Cognitive science programme
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2011-11-14 Created: 2011-11-10 Last updated: 2011-11-14Bibliographically approved

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