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Conference Paper

Signs and Maps: Cognitive Economy in the Use of External Aids for Indoor Navigation


Büchner SJ, Brösamle M, Meilinger,  T
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Hölscher, C., Büchner SJ, Brösamle M, Meilinger, T., & Strube, G. (2007). Signs and Maps: Cognitive Economy in the Use of External Aids for Indoor Navigation. In 29th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci 2007) (pp. 377-382). Red Hook, NY, USA: Curran.

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Wayfinding in public buildings often proves to be a challenge especially for first time visitors. The experiment investigates the relative effectiveness and efficiency of external aids for navigation in a complex multi-level, multi-building ensemble. A previous experiment provided the performance baseline for the re-design and prototype evaluation of the information system. Navigation aids were tested in three conditions: maps, signs, and the combination of both. With respect of usage a preference for signs over maps was identified. Also, signage had the largest impact on wayfinding performance, while maps alone showed the smallest level of support and the combination provided yet further improvement. Analysis of individual tasks identifies limitations of each type of external aid. A comparative task analyses reveals higher cognitive costs of maps relative to signs. The results are discussed in a framework of cognitive economics and agent nationality, explaining both usage preference performance differences.