Perceiving and Representing Horizontals: From Laboratories to Natural Environments and Back Again

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Abstract

As part of their book on children's developing conceptions of space, Piaget and Inhelder (1948/1956) described age-related performance on their water level task (WLT). The WLT was intended to assess respondents' ability to perceive and represent a horizontal (water) line within a surrounding non-orthogonal frame (a tilted container's straight sides). They reported age-linked increments in performance, implying that cognitively intact individuals would uniformly master the task by middle childhood. Described here are studies demonstrating that even many adults, especially women, find the task challenging. Also discussed is research demonstrating links between performance on paper-and-pencil lab measures like the WLT and performance on ecological tasks such as skill in using cartographic maps in large outdoor environments or in learning a new geological concept. The description offers a case history to illustrate the interplay between laboratory and ecological research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-166
Number of pages9
JournalEcological Psychology
Volume26
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Computer Science(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

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