Date of Award

Spring 4-16-2018

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Sutton

Abstract

This study investigated whether virtual environments (VE) have ecological validity in studies of cognitive mapping ability. Forty female undergraduate students completed the spatial orientation test (SOT) and other tasks that assessed their cognitive of real-world locations they visit often and a VE, through direction estimation and map accuracy tasks. Participants had lower error scores on real-world direction estimation than VE direction estimation, suggesting that the accuracy of their cognitive maps was associated with familiarity and exposure to an environment. Real-world direction estimation, VE direction estimation, and VE map building were all correlated with the SOT, suggesting a shared reliance on perspective-taking. The results of this study question the ecological validity of VE studies of cognitive mapping in females.

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