Social influences on spatial memory

Keith B. Maddox, David N. Rapp, Sebastien Brion, Holly A. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Three experiments were performed to examine the joint influences of spatial and social categories on memory for maps. Participants learned a map and descriptive information about small town businesses and, afterward, completed distance estimation and person-location matching tasks. Experiments 1 and 2 demonstrated that social (i.e., racial) and spatial information influenced memory, but not equivalently: Social information affected distance and matching task performance, whereas spatial information affected only distance estimates. This pattern was obtained for racially segregated and racially integrated neighborhoods and when the salience of the spatial categories was heightened. The social information influence did not generalize to political affiliation categories (Experiment 3). These results demonstrate that spatial and nonspatial information may interact to structure mental maps but that the salience of the social category is critically important. Furthermore, these findings suggest the applicability of a model of category salience (Blanz, 1999) for interactive products of spatial experiences - in this case, map learning. Norms for this article may be downloaded from

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-494
Number of pages16
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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