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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Survey versus Route-Based Wayfinding in Unfamiliar Environments


An interesting controversy has recently arisen regarding the relative effectiveness of map based versus route based environmental learning. Although spatial theory suggests that map based (survey) knowledge should be more effective, recent research shows some contrary results. In this paper we describe an experiment in which subjects learn either from a map or a computer simulation (pseudo-virtual reality) of an environment. Tests of route reproduction, cue location, orientation and directional knowledge are undertaken. Results confirm the superiority of survey learning procedures, but interesting differences are found with respect to gender and geographic background of subjects.

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