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Journal Article

Updating spatial relations to remote locations described in narratives

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Hatzipanayioti, A., Galati, A., & Avraamides, M. (2016). Updating spatial relations to remote locations described in narratives. Memory & Cognition, 44(8), 1259-1276. doi:10.3758/s13421-016-0635-6.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-BA46-F
In four experiments we examined whether sensorimotor encoding influences readers’ reasoning about spatial scenes acquired through narratives. Participants read a narrative that described the geometry of a store and then pointed to the memorized locations of described objects from imagined perspectives. In Experiment 1, participants walked during learning towards the direction of every described object and then visualized these objects as being in the immediate environment. In Experiment 2 they rotated their body to the direction of the described objects instead of walking to them, while in Experiment 3 they only turned their heads towards the objects. In Experiment 4, we eliminated the instructions to visualize the objects altogether. Results from the first three experiments revealed a performance benefit for responding from the perspective that participants physically occupied at testing. However, results from Experiment 4 showed that only participants who, in a post-task questionnaire, indicated that they had linked the described environment to their immediate environment exhibited such a benefit. Findings indicate that (1) the physical change in orientation influences reasoning about described environments if the remote environments are linked to participants’ sensorimotor framework and, (2) visualization instructions are sufficient to produce such a link.