Place naming – examining the influence of language on wayfinding

Abstract

We asked the question how language influences a presumably embodied system such as human wayfinding. To test this, participants walked along a route in a virtual environment. They were asked to remember half of the intersections by what they saw. At the other 50% of intersections they heard an arbitrary name which they also had to remember. In the test phase they were teleported to different intersections and had to indicate the direction the route went on. At intersections without a name they performed faster and more accurately. In a second experiment meaningful names were used instead. Participants now performed better at named intersection. The results indicate an interaction between language and the presumably embodied wayfinding system. This interaction cannot be explained by a limited common resource, depth of processing, overshadowing, or linguistic scaffolding. However, it is consistent with dual coding.


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