Cognitive maps and spatial behavior: Process and products

  • Downs R
  • Stea D
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22: Main argument: People behave in the world as they see it. Whatever the flaws, cognitive maps determine our spatial behavior. 9: Definition: "Cognitive mapping is a process composed of a series of psychological transformations by which an indvidual acquires, codes, stores, recalls, and decodes infromation about the relative locations an dattributes of phenomena in his everyday spatial enviornment." 9: "...human spatial behavior is dependent on the individual's cognitive map of the spatial environment." 10: Definitions: Cognitive mapping is the "process of acquisition, amalgamation, and storage" of spatial environment data. The cognitive map is the end "product of this process." 10: The cognitive map is a prerequisite for human survival and everyday functionality. Cognitive mapping is a necessary component of human behavior. Cognitive mapping allows "the indvidual to answer two basic questions quickly and efficiently: (1) Where certain vlued things are; (2) How to get to where they are from where he is." 11: Cartographic maps strongly influence how scientists, and everyday humans, have conceptualized and visualized what a cognitive map must look like and how it must function. 11: Top-down information from other types of maps share the same "function" but not the same "structure" - thus "cognitive maps are derived from analogies of process, not product." That is, similar processes exist between cartographic and cognitive mapping, but not the same end result. 11: Definition: Signature is a series of processes that give rise to how our environment is encoded and decoded. A cartographic map signature is dependent upon three processes: roation of point of view to a vertical perspective, change in scale, and abstraction to set of symbols. The same process takes hold for a cognitive map, with minor variations (p12). 12: Argument: Process and product cloud our judgment concerning cognitive maps/mapping. When we use the terms, it becomes ambiguous whether we are referring to process or product in our analysis. Crucial difference between the two! 14: Definition: Perception: object is noticed by one of the senses and induces a reaction or recognition of some kind. Environmental cognition differs, because it need not be something in the immediate environment and it may be something from the past. 14: Definition: "Cognition" is a more general, broad term, incorporating "perception, as well as thinking, problem solving, and the organization of information and ideas." 14: Geographers are concerned with the development and individual creation of environmental cognitions, not merely episodic spatial perceptions. 14: Definition: "Attitudes" are the things that lead people to behave or perceive in certain ways. I would argue that Lakoff's "understanding" makes more sense now. 16: Boulding 1956: There are no facts for individuals, only messages filtered through a changing value system. Again, very similar to Lakoff's "understanding." 16: To understand what cognitive maps are, we must answer three questions: 1) what do people need to know? 2) What do people know? and 3) How do people get their knowledge? 16: 1) People must know two types of information to survive: a) location and b) attributes. From this, knowledge of distance is also crucial and determinable. 17: 2) All cognitive maps are discontinuous. There are gaps in what we know and remember. Maps are distorted, schematized, and algamated. 18: Places can "denote" something but have no "connotative" or personal meaning, therefore having no impact on the person's behavior. Therefore, "we must be careful in interpreting the absence of phenomena from cognitive maps as reflecting cognitive discontinuity of space." 22: People get their knowledge through their senses and first and second-hand experiences.

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  • Roger M Downs

  • David Stea

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