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ERIC Number: EJ1067704
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jul
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Active and Passive Spatial Learning in Human Navigation: Acquisition of Graph Knowledge
Chrastil, Elizabeth R.; Warren, William H.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v41 n4 p1162-1178 Jul 2015
It is known that active exploration of a new environment leads to better spatial learning than does passive visual exposure. We ask whether specific components of active learning differentially contribute to particular forms of spatial knowledge--the "exploration-specific learning hypothesis". Previously, we found that idiothetic information during walking is the primary active contributor to metric survey knowledge (Chrastil & Warren, 2013). In this study, we test the contributions of 3 components to topological graph and route knowledge: visual information, idiothetic information, and cognitive decision making. Four groups of participants learned the locations of 8 objects in a virtual hedge maze by (a) walking or (b) watching a video, crossed with (1) either making decisions about their path or (2) being guided through the maze. Route and graph knowledge were assessed by walking in the maze corridors from a starting object to the remembered location of a test object, with frequent detours. Decision making during exploration significantly contributed to subsequent route finding in the walking condition, whereas idiothetic information did not. Participants took novel routes and the metrically shortest routes on the majority of both direct and barrier trials, indicating that labeled graph knowledge--not merely route knowledge--was acquired. We conclude that, consistent with the exploration-specific learning hypothesis, decision making is the primary component of active learning for the acquisition of topological graph knowledge, whereas idiothetic information is the primary component for metric survey knowledge.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: BCS-0214383; BCS-0843940