Date of Award

Spring 4-9-2019

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Sutton

Abstract

Individual differences in the ability to build a mental cognitive map of an unfamiliar environment have been studied using both real-world environments (e.g., Ishikawa & Montello, 2006) and virtual environments (VEs) such as Silcton (Weisberg et al., 2014). The current study investigated whether the accuracy of a person’s cognitive map of their real-world, familiar environment was associated with the cognitive map they formed of an unfamiliar virtual environment in the lab. Forty-nine female undergraduate students provided frequently visited locations in their city of residence and explored the Silcton VE. They then completed direction estimation tasks that assessed the accuracy of their cognitive map of the familiar, real-world locations and the target locations in the novel Silcton VE. Linear regression showed that real-world direction estimation accuracy predicted Silcton direction estimation accuracy, suggesting that the same underlying skills are used for representing familiar environments and building representations of unfamiliar environments.

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