Understanding Person-Space-Map Relations: Cartographic and Developmental Perspectives

Lynn S. Liben, Roger M. Downs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Drawing from cognitive-developmental and cartographic theory, we tested children's understanding of person-map-space relations. After introducing maps of the classroom, an adult moved to different positions in the room and pointed straight ahead. Five- to 12-year-old children (N = 259) placed colored arrow stickers on the map to show the person's location and heading, once when the map was aligned with the room and once when rotated 180°. Performance was better on the aligned condition and when headings were parallel to the nearby wall; most younger children failed to understand point of view; and sex differences favored boys. Data from 168 children given additional spatial tasks were consistent with the hypothesized importance of projective spatial concepts for mapping. Data suggest that it is geometric (spatial) rather than representational (symbolic) space-map correspondence that pose particular difficulty for older children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-752
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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