Navigational decision making and spatial abilities
Goodall, Amy Jannelle
Understanding human spatial cognition and behaviour is not something easily studied. Many factors are involved that contribute in different ways for different individuals. Navigation and wayfinding have been used as an approach, or starting point, for such studies. Spatial abilities tests have long been used as reference points to generalize to overt navigational behaviour. Care needs to be taken in generalizing from paper to behaviour to make certain that it is a valid relationship exists.The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which certain psychometric spatial abilities tests are indicators of actual navigational decision making. The study was conducted in two phases. The navigational decision tasks were made up of four paths with two variables: length and number of turns. The participants were required to make a decision on which direction to go after being lead part of the way around a hallway. The choices were to either go back the way they were led or take a novel route along a previously un-travelled path (shortcut). Spatial abilities tests (MRT, PFT, and OLMT), a self-rating of SOD, and learning preference for novel environments were administered in phase two. While efficient navigation was not explicitly required in the navigation tasks those participants making the most efficient decisions shared similar characteristics. Efficient navigators have a higher aptitude for mental manipulation (as measured by the MRT), express a preference for a more ‘exploratory’ environmental learning style, are disproportionately male, and have a slightly higher self-rating of SOD. In addition to the collective set of four navigation decisions (one for each experimental path), path 2 demonstrated the ‘efficient vs. non-efficient’ distinction quite well: in order to make the most efficient decision the individual must maintain the correct metric distance from the origin point and not be deterred by the passage of only half of the turns in the rectangular experimental environment.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorBell, Scott M.
CommitteePooler, James; Noble, Bram F.
Copyright DateAugust 2007
sense of direction