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Virtual Reality

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Cognitive ability and information retrieval: When less is more

  • S. J. Westerman
  • T. Cribbin
Article

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the use of virtual environments as a means of conveying semantic information relating to the contents of computerised textual databases. two empirical studies are reported that investigated the influence of individual differences in cognitive ability on search task performance. In the first experiment, objects (each representing a type of animal) were placed ordinally in a three-dimensional cube arrangement based on ratings of semantic similarity. Participants were required to locate a series of randomly selected objects. Contrary to prediction, participants with high associative memory were comparatively poorer performers. In a second experiment ‘true’ rating distances were used to locate objects in virtual space. High spatial ability was associated with better performance and, in contrast with the results of Experiment 1, this pattern also was replicated for associative memory. Implications are discussed.

Keywords

Individual Differences Information Retrieval Visualisation 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology InstituteAston UniversityBirminghamUK

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