Psychological Research

, Volume 81, Issue 5, pp 1020–1034 | Cite as

Route planning with transportation network maps: an eye-tracking study

  • Elise GrisonEmail author
  • Valérie Gyselinck
  • Jean-Marie Burkhardt
  • Jan Malte Wiener
Original Article


Planning routes using transportation network maps is a common task that has received little attention in the literature. Here, we present a novel eye-tracking paradigm to investigate psychological processes and mechanisms involved in such a route planning. In the experiment, participants were first presented with an origin and destination pair before we presented them with fictitious public transportation maps. Their task was to find the connecting route that required the minimum number of transfers. Based on participants’ gaze behaviour, each trial was split into two phases: (1) the search for origin and destination phase, i.e., the initial phase of the trial until participants gazed at both origin and destination at least once and (2) the route planning and selection phase. Comparisons of other eye-tracking measures between these phases and the time to complete them, which depended on the complexity of the planning task, suggest that these two phases are indeed distinct and supported by different cognitive processes. For example, participants spent more time attending the centre of the map during the initial search phase, before directing their attention to connecting stations, where transitions between lines were possible. Our results provide novel insights into the psychological processes involved in route planning from maps. The findings are discussed in relation to the current theories of route planning.


Cognitive Load Task Complexity Travel Salesman Problem Destination Station Pupil Size 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was carried out thanks to a grant for 2 months international exchange from the Paris Descartes University Doctoral School (ED 261, Cognition, Comportements, Conduites Humaines).

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

Ethical approval for the study was granted by the Bournemouth University committee. All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments as well as comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there were no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Memory and Cognition Lab, UMR S894Paris Descartes University and INSERMParisFrance
  2. 2.Psychology of Behaviour and Mobility LabIFSTTARVersaillesFrance
  3. 3.Psychology DepartmentBournemouth UniversityPooleUK
  4. 4.Dementia InstituteBournemouth UniversityPooleUK

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