The orientation of cognitive maps

Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society 22 (2):105-108 (1984)
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24 undergraduates were blindfolded and walked through paths laid out on a floor to investigate whether the orientation of Ss' cognitive maps (CMs) could be determined after they had learned a path by walking through it. Given the assumption that the CM is picturelike, it was predicted that it has a specific orientation, which implies that tests in which the CM is assumed to be aligned with the path should be less difficult than tests in which the CM is hypothesized to be contraligned. In Exp I (8 Ss), Ss were required to draw a picture of the path they had walked through; in Exp II (14 Ss), Ss were required to locate targets in the path under conditions in which their presumed CMs were either aligned or contraligned with the path. Results show that, in Exp I, all Ss drew the 1st line segment of the path upward, suggesting that this part of the path was fixed in an upward direction in memory. In Exp II, Ss were more accurate and faster in locating points on the path when the CM was hypothesized to be aligned with the path than when it was hypothesized to be contraligned.

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Mike Palij
New York University


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