Psychological Research

, Volume 77, Issue 5, pp 555–574

Active route learning in virtual environments: disentangling movement control from intention, instruction specificity, and navigation control

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00426-012-0451-y

Cite this article as:
von Stülpnagel, R. & Steffens, M.C. Psychological Research (2013) 77: 555. doi:10.1007/s00426-012-0451-y


Active navigation research examines how physiological and psychological involvement in navigation benefits spatial learning. However, existing conceptualizations of active navigation comprise separable, distinct factors. This research disentangles the contributions of movement control (i.e., self-contained vs. observed movement) as a central factor from learning intention (Experiment 1), instruction specificity and instruction control (Experiment 2), as well as navigation control (Experiment 3) to spatial learning in virtual environments. We tested the effects of these factors on landmark recognition (landmark knowledge), tour-integration and route navigation (route knowledge). Our findings suggest that movement control leads to robust advantages in landmark knowledge as compared to observed movement. Advantages in route knowledge do not depend on learning intention, but on the need to elaborate spatial information. Whenever the necessary level of elaboration is assured for observed movement, too, the development of route knowledge is not inferior to that for self-contained movement.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für PsychologieFriedrich Schiller University JenaJenaGermany

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