The contribution of visuo-spatial factors in representing a familiar environment: The case of undergraduate students at a university campus
Abstract Familiarity with an environment enables us to form elaborate mental representations, which also relate to individual visuo-spatial factors. This study examines how several individual cognitive and self-reported visuo-spatial factors contribute to people's knowledge of familiar environments. Undergraduates attending a university campus area for 12 months were administered visuo-spatial (mental rotation and visuo-spatial working memory) tasks, and tested on self-reported preferences, attitudes and strategy use in approaching an environment. Their environment knowledge was tested using location, path length judgment and pointing tasks. Regression modelling on environment knowledge factors (considering all recall tasks together) showed that visuo-spatial abilities and self-reported pleasure in exploring were associated with more accurate environment representations. Some differences emerged when single environment knowledge measures were considered. The contribution of individual visuo-spatial factors to knowledge of familiar environments is discussed from the spatial cognition standpoint. Highlights Visuo-spatial factors influence mental representations of familiar environments. VSWM and mental rotation abilities relate to the quality of these representations. Self-reported pleasure in exploring also relate to mental representation quality. The role of other self-reported measures changes as a function of the measure used.
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