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ERIC Number: EJ1113057
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Sep
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Using Mental Transformation Strategies for Spatial Scaling: Evidence from a Discrimination Task
Möhring, Wenke; Newcombe, Nora S.; Frick, Andrea
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v42 n9 p1473-1479 Sep 2016
Spatial scaling, or an understanding of how distances in different-sized spaces relate to each other, is fundamental for many spatial tasks and relevant for success in numerous professions. Previous research has suggested that adults use mental transformation strategies to mentally scale spatial input, as indicated by linear increases in response times and accuracies with larger scaling magnitudes. However, prior research has not accounted for possible difficulties in encoding spatial information within smaller spaces. Thus, the present study used a discrimination task in which we systematically pitted absolute size of the spaces against scaling magnitude. Adults (N = 48) were presented with 2 pictures, side-by-side on a computer display, each of which contained a target. Adults were asked to decide whether the targets were in the same position or not, by pressing the respective computer key. In the constant-large condition, the constant space was kept large, whereas the size of the other space was variable and smaller. In the constant-small condition, the constant space was small, whereas the size of the other space was variable and larger. Irrespective of condition, adults' discrimination performance (d-primes) and response times were linear functions of scaling magnitude, supporting the notion that analog imagery strategies are used in spatial scaling.
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: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: SBE0541957; SBE1041707