There are marked individual differences in the formation of cognitive maps both in the real world and in virtual environments (VE; e.g., Blajenkova, Motes, & Kozhevnikov, 2005; Chai & Jacobs, 2010; Ishikawa & Montello, 2006; Wen, Ishikawa, & Sato, 2011). These differences, however, are poorly understood and can be difficult to assess except by self-report methods. VEs offer an opportunity to collect objective data in environments that can be controlled and standardized. In this study, we designed a VE consisting of buildings arrayed along 2 separated routes, allowing for differentiation of between-route and within-route representation. Performance on a pointing task and a model-building task correlated with self-reported navigation ability. However, for participants with lower levels of between-route pointing, the Santa Barbara Sense of Direction scale (Hegarty, Richardson, Montello, Lovelace, & Subbiah, 2002) did not predict individual differences in accuracy when pointing to buildings within the same route. Thus, we confirm the existence of individual differences in the ability to construct a cognitive map of an environment, identify both the strengths and the potential weaknesses of self-report measures, and isolate a dimension that may help to characterize individual differences more completely. The VE designed for this study provides an objective behavioral measure of navigation ability that can be widely used as a research tool.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 2014|