Memory & Cognition

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 895–909 | Cite as

Learning geographical information from hypothetical maps

  • Nora S. Newcombe
  • Noelle Chiau-Ru Chiang


People show biases or distortions in their geographical judgments, such as mistakenly judging Rome to be south of Chicago (the Chicago-Rome illusion). These errors may derive from either perceptual heuristics or categorical organization. However, previous work on geographic knowledge has generally examined people’s judgments of real-world locations for which learning history is unknown. This article reports experiments on the learning of hypothetical geographical spaces, in which participants acquired information in a fashion designed to control real-world factors, such as variable travel experiences or stereotypes about other countries, as well as to mimic initial encounters with locations through reading or conventional school-based geography education. Five experiments combine to suggest that biases in judgment based on learning of this kind are different in key regards from those seen with real-world geography and may be based more on the use of perceptual heuristics than on categorical organization.


Extreme Outlier Arctic Circle Actual Longitude Geographical Knowledge Lower Country 
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.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTemple UniversityPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Shih-Hsin UniversityTaiwan

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