The first-perspective alignment effect: The role of environmental complexity and familiarity with surroundings

Michael Tlauka, Pelham Carter, Timothy Mahlberg, Paul Wilson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    11 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    People often remember relatively novel environments from the first perspective encountered or the first direction of travel. This initial perspective can determine a preferred orientation that facilitates the efficiency of spatial judgements at multiple recalled locations. The present study examined this "firstperspective alignment effect" (FPA effect). In three experiments, university students explored threepath routes through computer-simulated spaces presented on a desktop computer screen. Spatial memory was then tested employing a "judgement of relative direction" task. Contrary to the predictions of a previous account, Experiment 1 found a reliable FPA effect in barren and complex environments. Experiment 2 strongly implicated the importance of complete novelty of the space surrounding the route in producing the effect. Experiment 3 found that, while familiarity with the surrounding space greatly attenuated the FPA effect with immediate testing, the effect reemerged following a 7-day delay to testing. The implications for the encoding and retrieval of spatial reference frames are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2236-2250
    Number of pages15
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
    Volume64
    Issue number11
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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