ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (9): 1143-1150.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01143

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The combination of self-position and self-orientation in children’s map task

HU Qingfen; LU Jing   

  1. (Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China)
  • Received:2015-09-20 Published:2016-09-25 Online:2016-09-25
  • Contact: HU Qingfen, E-mail:


Previous studies from neurophysiology have found that animals' position representation and direction representation in navigation have different neural mechanisms. Recent study from developmental psychology demonstrated that these two types of representations had divergent development trajectories. When using map to seek for self-position and self-orientation, children begin to perform better than chance in the location task but do not show the ability to solve the direction problems until 5 years old. However, no research has yet focused on the combination of these two types of representation, which is a common situation in map use. In the present study, the paradigm used in Lu and Hu's study was modified to explore the capacity to combine self-position and self-orientation in children's map use. Five- to 6-year-old children solved four map-to-space problems and four space-to-map problems. For the map-to-space problems, children were given a map with a doll on it and asked to go to the corresponding location and face the corresponding direction. For the space-to-map problems, children were asked to indicate their own location and orientation by placing a doll on the map. It was found that 5- to 6-year-old children successfully combined the representations of self-position and self-orientation. Their performance was largely better than chance. However, compared to orientation choice, children performed better in position choice. Additionally, the relation between accuracy of orientation choice and that of position choice was varied according to the situation. When the target orientation was to face the adjacent wall, the orientation choice seemed to depend on the position choice. When the target orientation was to face a far wall, the relation was weak. Based on these results, we suggested that children have distinct strategies to combine position and orientation in varied situations. When the target orientation was to face the adjacent wall, they decided the position first and then faced the adjacent wall. When the target orientation was to face a far wall, however, this simple strategy was invalid. Then, they represented the position and the orientation separately. That is to say, children used a strategy that is more concise and less resource-consumed in a specific situation to combine the representation of self-position and self-orientation.

Key words: children, self-position representation, self-orientation representation, combination of position and orientation, map