The Effects of Established Grid Line Colours in Topographic Maps on Cognitive Representations of Map Information
1Edler, D.; 2Bestgen, A.; 3Kuchinke, L.; 4Dickmann, F.
Research from the field of cognitive psychology has demonstrated that mental representations based on the processing of map information are distorted following systematic patterns. To reduce such memory- and perception based distortions, it was recently found that cartographers can make use of an overlaying construction of artificial grids. This additional layer supports the map reader’s processing of the positions of object locations and their relations, as required by numerous navigation and orientation tasks. Grids can take corrective measures in map perception by providing an additional reference pattern to spatial memory. Research from cognitive psychology provided evidence that colour is a powerful visual variable influencing and improving the human memory performance. Although colour is a fundamental graphic variable in cartography and recommendations on the use of colour have a long tradition, the effects of colours on the cognitive processing of map information have hardly been explored so far. Still, it remains an open question whether different colours established in practical cartography have different influences on cognitive representations of learned map information. Using a recall memory paradigm, the aim of this study was to explore whether established colours of grid lines in different topographic maps would influence the map user’s performance of object-location memory. The colours considered in the study were black, dark brown and blue. The three colours were the three conditions of the within-subjects factor COLOUR. A second within-subjects factor was LANDSCAPE, which covered three different conditions of the geographic context and visual complexities represented in the topographic base map introduced as very rural, rural suburban and very urban. The results of this study show that a blue grid line colour leads to significantly better recall performances than the black or dark brown colour conditions. This result is not further modulated by an interaction with LANDSCAPE.
Cognitive Cartography; Empirical Cartography; Colour