The Representation of Space in Mental Models derived from Text

Langston, William and Kramer, Douglas C and Glenberg, Arthur M (1998) The Representation of Space in Mental Models derived from Text. [Preprint]

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Mental models of text are representations of what the text is about (i.e., situations), rather than representations of the text itself. Many mental model theories propose that mental models, like real situations, are played out in a medium analogous to a Euclidean space so that distance has functional consequences. For example, when mentally manipulating one element of the representation, other elements that are spatially close will be noticed and their short-term accessibility enhanced. To test this noticing hypothesis, participants read texts that described the object by object construction of a spatial layout. According to the text, a critical object ended up close to a target object (in the spatial layout) or far from the target object. In neither case, however, was the relation between the critical object and the target object explicitly described in the text. The noticing hypothesis predicts that the accessibility of the target object will be enhanced when the critical object is close to it. We tested this prediction in seven experiments in which we also manipulated the number of objects described, whether the description was accompanied by a diagram, the presentation modality of the description, the number of dimensions in the spatial layout, and the measurement of accessibility. We failed to find consistent support for the noticing hypothesis. The data compel the conclusions that a) spatial representations can be formed when reading, b) these representations do not support automatic noticing of implicit spatial relations, c) it is likely that the spatial representation is more topological or functional than Euclidean.

Item Type:Preprint
Keywords:cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics, discourse, text, reading comprehension, space, mental models, situation models, metrics of situation models, embodied cognition
Subjects:Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Computer Science > Language
Linguistics > Semantics
Philosophy > Epistemology
Philosophy > Philosophy of Language
Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
ID Code:626
Deposited By: Glenberg, Arthur M.
Deposited On:01 Apr 1998
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54


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