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Regularities in Spatial Information Processing: Implications for Modeling Destination Choice

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This paper investigates the determinants of spatial knowledge and how our knowledge of space varies according to geographic location. By using data on U.S. city names recalled at 22 test locations, a multivariate model of the information surface specific to each test location is calibrated. This model links the probability of a city being recalled from memory to its distance from the test site, its population size, its location with respect to other cities, and whether or not it is a state capital. The paper then suggests that these recall data provide information on spatial knowledge surfaces from which large-scale spatial choices, such as migration destinations, are made. Results from the analysis lend further evidence to the idea that spatial knowledge is stored and processed hierarchically and that individuals underrepresent information in large clusters. Consequently, the results have important implications for modeling any spatial behavior based on individuals' spatial information surfaces. In particular, the results cast further doubt on the validity of traditional large-scale spatial choice frameworks and lend support to the competing destinations hypothesis.

Keywords: Spatial cognition; city name recalls; hierarchical information processing; spatial choice

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Newcastle, 2: Morehead State University

Publication date: May 1, 1999

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