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Visual Landmarks are Exaggerated: A Theoretical and Empirical View on the Meaning of Landmarks in Human Wayfinding

Abstract

Are landmarks exaggerated in human wayfinding? Daniel R. Montello says yes, and I basically agree with his opinion. However, I do agree on a different level. My aim for this discussion article is to point out why landmarks are indeed exaggerated in this research context and I will try to approach this claim from several perspectives. First, the research focus in this field is, unfortunately, mainly on visual landmarks. Second, other modalities than vision—e.g., auditory and/or olfactory senses—can be used for landmark-based wayfinding. Third, we need to clearly differentiate between conscious/effortful and unconscious/automatic processing of spatial information in the context of landmark-based wayfinding. Finally, I will suggest that landmarks, even if exaggerated in the visual domain, are (still) of significant importance in human wayfinding and spatial cognition.

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Acknowledgements

I thank the reviewers for their critical comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kai Hamburger.

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Hamburger, K. Visual Landmarks are Exaggerated: A Theoretical and Empirical View on the Meaning of Landmarks in Human Wayfinding. Künstl Intell 34, 557–562 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13218-020-00668-5

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Keywords

  • Landmarks
  • Wayfinding
  • Spatial cognition
  • Modality
  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Olfactory
  • Multimodal integration
  • System 1 and system 2 thinking