Searching for Map Symbols: The Cognitive Processes

Author: Lloyd, Robert

Source: Cartography and Geographic Information Science, 1 October 1988, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 363-377(15)

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Abstract:

Map images can be used to solve spatial tasks by employing processes similar to those used when looking at a cartographic map. Information encoded from a map, however, may not necessarily be stored as an analogue image of the map. This is likely to be the case when a person encodes information from a map to be used for a particular task. An experiment was performed where subjects searched cartographic maps displayed on a monitor to determine if particular map symbols were present. Relationships between the reaction times and the number of symbols on the maps indicated that subjects who were viewing the maps were using a serial self-terminating search process. A similar experiment was conducted with subjects who encoded the information on maps into memory and then determined if particular map symbols had been on the memorized maps. Relationships between reaction times and the number of symbols on the memorized maps indicated that a parallel search process was used by the memory subjects. Error rates were much higher for the memory subjects compared to the perception subjects. Figure-ground relationships on the maps did not significantly affect reaction times for either the perception or memory subjects.
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