Cartography is geographic cognition mapped. A major function of cartographic maps and other geographic information displays is to support human cognitive functions such as knowledge acquisition, reasoning, and problem-solving with geographic information—information that is explicitly tied to locations on the Earth’s surface. A host of research issues thus concern the ways that humans process geographic information from map displays. At the same time, the design of such geographic information displays typically involves a series of cognitive acts as well. In this chapter, we describe the basis for understanding cartographic map use and design as cognitive processes. We summarize research on human cognition of geographic information that involves creating, viewing, and reasoning with such displays. We also point to ongoing questions for future research, many stimulated by the technological developments in geographic information visualization.
Browse by title
Daniel R. Montello, Sara Irina Fabrikant and Clare Davies
David H. Uttal
Adults know a great deal about geography, even if they have trouble locating particular countries on a map or cannot remember many state capitals. We know, for example, that there is a world beyond our direct experience and that maps are the primary means of representing geographical information. I refer to this informal understanding as implicit geography knowledge, and the focus of this chapter is on how this knowledge develops. The chapter reviews research on the development of children’s conceptions of space and place at different scales. The review suggests that even very young children can mentally represent small-scale spaces accurately, but that their knowledge of larger, geographic-scale spaces is more limited. Development consists in part of acquiring a mental model of the geographic-scale space. I consider research from cognitive development that may shed light on the developmental mechanisms that help children to extend what they understand about small-scale and large-scale space. The review suggests that geography education can begin at an early age, but that it should emphasize informal, playful activities that help children link maps and the spaces that they represent.
Sara Hadavi and William C. Sullivan
What do we mean by environmental aesthetics? To what does it apply, and why is it important? Employing a psychological approach, we address these questions from a non-expert’s perspective. We consider environmental aesthetics an outgrowth of human needs—part hardwired and part influenced by experiences—that provides a window into the relationships among people and places. We examine the role that information processing plays in environmental aesthetic, and explore our recurring battle with mental fatigue and the kind of settings to which we are drawn in an effort to restore ourselves. We end by considering the implications of environmental aesthetics for planning and design in terms of creating restorative environments in which people are more likely to thrive.
Holly A. Taylor, Aaron L. Gardony and Tad T. Brunyé
Environmental knowledge guides our actions through the world. Because these actions vary tremendously, environmental knowledge should have the structures and functions to accommodate different uses. In this chapter, we discuss the how neural and environmental structures provide the foundation for flexibly processing spatial knowledge. We discuss the variety of processes that subserve actions within environments. We end by pulling together both the structures and processes to consider how environmental knowledge is mentally represented and used for decision making within environments. Our mental representations of environments, to accommodate our many actions in the world, need to incorporate varied information.
This chapter provides an overview of the way science and policy communities conceptualize environmental risk of individuals and communities, and shows how these ideas have influenced public policy, focusing on climate change and urban water conservation. Social and environmental scientists have stressed the interconnections between natural events and human perceptions and behaviors to understand the risk of harm from natural hazards. Harm from hazards has been conceptualized from a political economy perspective, as a pressure and release process, and from the Social Amplification of Risk Framework. Prospect Theory and heuristics also offer insight into the way people make decisions in the face of known probabilities. Environmental scientists differentiate between the experiential and analytical aspects of decision making and use these ideas to understand climate change attitudes and water conservation behaviors.
Roger M. Downs
What might we know about human spatial behavior in the future? To answer this question, we need to sort through ideas to decide which research approaches are desirable in theory and consider data sources to decide which approaches are feasible in practice. The sorting process is based on the Rumsfeldian ontology of knowledge categories of known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. This framework guides a discussion of what we do know about spatial behavior, what we might want to know about it, and how we might come to know it. The discussions result in two imperatives critical to the future of behavioral and cognitive geography: identification of new or reframed concepts that can generate interesting questions, and introduction of technologies that can generate opportunities for collecting and/or analyzing data.
Edited by Daniel R. Montello
Since the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, geography has evolved into an interdisciplinary discipline that echoes in its various geographies many of the physical social and human sciences. This chapter tells the story—the historical and theoretical development—of a very young geography that still strives to establish itself as an accepted branch of geography. It started in the early 1970s as behavioral geography, strongly inspired by psychologist Eduard Tolman’s notion of ‘cognitive maps’ and architect Kevin Lynch’s The Image of the City. Then, influenced by the young and rapidly evolving cognitive science, it gradually turned into cognitive geography. The chapter closes with a view on the current state of cognitive geography and its prospects of being accepted by mainstream geography and contributing to the main body of cognitive science.
Mary Hegarty, Heather Burte and Alexander P. Boone
This paper examines individual differences in spatial abilities and strategies, focusing on spatial navigation tasks, including maintaining a sense of location and orientation in a known environment, and learning the layout of new places. First we review how these “large-scale” spatial abilities are measured, including both self-report measures of “sense of direction” and objective measures of navigation performance or knowledge of learned environments. Then we review some of the major findings of research to date on these individual differences. These include the findings that (a) individual differences in navigation abilities among the general population are large, (b) self-report measures are predictive of objective measures, (c) large-scale spatial ability is partially dissociated from small-scale spatial abilities measured by typical pencil-and-paper measures of spatial ability, and (d) individual differences in navigation are characterized by differences in navigation style or strategy as well as proficiency. Finally we identify some gaps in this literature and discuss priorities for future research.
This chapter discusses the structures and processes of cognitive maps and cognitive mapping in large-scale (environmental) spaces. It first looks at the importance of knowing where we are in the environment and points to the significance of understanding how we know where we are. It then clarifies the concepts of cognitive maps, large-scale or environmental spaces, and spatial ontogenesis and microgenesis. Next the discussion focuses on the development of spatial knowledge in a novel environment, particularly from the perspective of individual differences. The chapter concludes with discussions of further related issues, such as spatial thinking, spatial awareness, and a spatially enabled society.