ENVIRONMENTAL COGNITIONLook up various definitions for environmental cognition and cognitive maps and insert in the spacebelow:IntroductionInterest in the use of cognitive maps in humans developed in the 1960s when Lynch, who,interested in town planning, asked people from three cities - Boston, Jersey City and Los Angeles,to draw sketch maps of their city and give detailed descriptions of the route they took home fromwork. From these he was able to identify certain elements that seemed to be common across mapsfrom all three cities.Elements of cognitive maps:Paths: routes along which people travel, for example, roads and footpaths.Edges: boundaries or non-travelled lines, for example, shores of lakes, edges of cliffs,building walls.Districts: moderately sized areas that city residents perceive as having a particularcharacter, for example, the West End.Nodes: well-known points that people travel to and from, often at the juncture ofpathways, for example, major road junctions, bus stations.Landmarks: easily-viewed elements which can be used as reference features, for exampleon a grand scale, a tall building such as a church spire, or on a smaller scale a statue.Subsequent research has supported the existence of these five distinct elements when examiningcognitive maps.
Aragones and Arredondo (1985) demonstrated the presence of all five categories by testing theability of participants to classify elements from Madrid City into groups. They were spontaneouslyable to cluster examples of each type of feature together; for instance, the palace, museum andpost office were put together by the participants and fell into the category of landmarks, andsimilarly plazas were identified as nodes.Measurement of and research into cognitive mapsSketch mapsPerhaps the most obvious method to use is that designed by Lynch, asking individuals to draw asketch map. They are required to draw the map of a particular area, for example, their hometownor local neighbourhood, to gain an understanding of the internal representation that they have ofthat area.Appleyard (1970) using this technique, found that one of two main types of map was drawn,spatial or sequential.Gouldian mapsOne way to overcome the problems of analysis of sketch maps caused by individual differences isto begin with an accurate base map. Participants can then be asked questions with reference tothis and for information about their reactions. For example, a map of their local town marked withdistricts; participants can then be asked to rate these for desirability as residential areas. Such atechnique can then be used to investigate differences; for instance, in perceptions of people livingin different locations.Gould and White (1982) used this technique to assess the evaluations that US residents made oftheir own and other parts of the United States. The participants rated their own area more highlythan other parts of the country.Recognition tasksInitially recognition tasks were used as a way of checking the reliability of sketch maps. Individualsare asked whether they recognise certain features; such as landmarks. Photographs of locallandmarks would be shown interspersed with photographs of non-familiar landmarks, as a way oftesting how well people store details of their spatial environment. This became a technique in itsown right as it overcame the problems of varying levels of drawing skills. The impact that the useof features such as landmarks had on learning a particular route was examined in a study by Tlaukaand Wilson (1994).KEY STUDY: Tlauka and Wilson (1994): Route-learning in a computer-simulated environmentAim: To test whether participants would perform a route-learning task more efficiently in anenvironment with landmarks compared to one without.ParticipantsExperiment 1: 32 students from Leicester University; approximately equal numbers of malesand females with a mean age of 21.Experiment 2: a different group of 32 students from Leicester University, with a mean age of23.
Method:Experiment 1: participants were asked to find their way through a simulated environment,moving through a series of rooms on a computer screen using the keyboard to select theappropriate door to move to the next room. Each participant was tested individually andreceived six trials. A trial was complete when the participant reached room 15. At this point theenvironment was re-set back to the starting position in room 1 and the next trial commenced.The difference between the two groups was whether there were landmarks between the twodoors, to act as reference points and thus assist recognition of which of the two doors was thecorrect one to open, or not.Experiment 2: the same procedure was followed but in this experiment the participants in bothgroups were asked to count backwards in threes starting at 911, to act as a distraction task.ResultsExperiment 1: no significant difference was found between the two groups in the number ofcorrect door choices that were made.Experiment 2: the landmark group chose significantly more correct door choices than the non-landmark group.Conclusions: The fact that there was no difference between the two groups in experiment 1suggests that either the landmarks did not make the scene more distinctive or the non-landmarkgroup were using some strategy to remember the correct order of door choices. Experiment 2 wasconducted in an attempt to assess the likelihood of it being due to the latter and with thedistraction tasks landmarks did aid learning, while without the landmarks the learning strategiesused in the landmark condition were not able to be used.Evaluate this study in the space below as we would in class.
Multidimensional scaling: This technique involves the use of distance estimates to assess anindividuals mental representation of the spatial environment. Individuals are asked to estimatedistances between different features, such as distance between buildings, landmarks or towns,which then leads to a computer-generated map being created to position the buildings according tothe estimates given.Moar (1978) sampled housewives from Glasgow and Cambridge by asking them to give distanceestimates between different cities in the UK. From these estimates, maps were created todemonstrate where they perceived the different places to be in relation to each other. It wasfound that Glasgow housewives exaggerated the size of Scotland while Cambridge housewivesexaggerated the size of England as demonstrated below.Errors made in cognitive mapsThere are a number of different types of error that can be made when our cognitive maps arebeing tested. Three of the main ones are:1. Incomplete detailWhen maps are drawn, some details may be omitted; for example, minor roads or buildingsthat could affect the overall usefulness of the map.2. DistortionDetail that is included may not be represented accurately. Roads tend to be drawn as straightrather than curved, and junctions are drawn inaccurately at right angles, as mis-estimation ofintersection angles occurs (with acute angles being overestimated and obtuse angles beingunderestimated). Often sizes of buildings or landmarks are distorted, as are the distancesbetween certain features.Pinheiro (1998) found that the appearance and size of countries on students sketch maps ofthe world related to factors such as military and economic power as well as their actual size.Seibert and Anooshian (1993) reported that participants omitted from their sketch maps areasor landmarks that they did not like.3. AugmentationOn some maps detail is omitted and non-existent detail can be added, as we inaccuratelyrepresent the area in our mind, often linked to our expectations of particular occurrences builtout of experience. For example, an engineer working in Guyana included a railway line that didnot exist in a sketch map of the area, because his experience led him to predict that therewould be a rail connection between a steel mill and a mining port.