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19-01-2017 | Original Article | Uitgave 3/2018

Psychological Research 3/2018

The limits of boundaries: unpacking localization and cognitive mapping relative to a boundary

Tijdschrift:
Psychological Research > Uitgave 3/2018
Auteurs:
Ruojing Zhou, Weimin Mou

Abstract

Previous research (Zhou, Mou, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition 42(8):1316–1323, 2016) showed that learning individual locations relative to a single landmark, compared to learning relative to a boundary, led to more accurate inferences of inter-object spatial relations (cognitive mapping of multiple locations). Following our past findings, the current study investigated whether the larger number of reference points provided by a homogeneous circular boundary, as well as less accessible knowledge of direct spatial relations among the multiple reference points, would lead to less effective cognitive mapping relative to the boundary. Accordingly, we manipulated (a) the number of primary reference points (one segment drawn from a circular boundary, four such segments, vs. the complete boundary) available when participants were localizing four objects sequentially (Experiment 1) and (b) the extendedness of each of the four segments (Experiment 2). The results showed that cognitive mapping was the least accurate in the whole boundary condition. However, expanding each of the four segments did not affect the accuracy of cognitive mapping until the four were connected to form a continuous boundary. These findings indicate that when encoding locations relative to a homogeneous boundary, participants segmented the boundary into differentiated pieces and subsequently chose the most informative local part (i.e., the segment closest in distance to one location) as the primary reference point for a particular location. During this process, direct spatial relations among the reference points were likely not attended to. These findings suggest that people might encode and represent bounded space in a fragmented fashion when localizing within a homogeneous boundary.

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