Cognitive evaluation of spatial formalisms: Intuitive granularities of overlap relations

Jan Oliver Wallgrün, Jinlong Yang, Alexander Klippel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The authors present four human behavioral experiments to address the question of intuitive granularities in fundamental spatial relations as they can be found in formal spatial calculi. These calculi focus on invariant characteristics under certain (especially topological) transformations. Of particular interest to this article is the concept of two spatially extended entities overlapping each other. The overlap concept has been extensively treated in Galton's mode of overlap calculus (Galton, 1998). In the first two experiments, the authors used a category construction task to calibrate this calculus against behavioral data and found that participants adopted a very coarse view on the concept of overlap and distinguished only between three general relations: proper part, overlap, and non-overlap. In the following two experiments, the authors changed the instructions to explicitly address the possibility that humans could be swayed to adopt a more detailed level of granularity, that is, the authors encouraged them to create as many meaningful groups as possible. The results show that the three relations identified in the first two experiments (overlap, non-overlap, and proper part) are very robust and a natural level of granularity across all four experiments. However, the results also reveal that contextual factors gain more influence at finer levels of granularity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Cognitive Informatics and Natural Intelligence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Artificial Intelligence


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