chapter  13
14 Pages

Human Spatial Concepts Reflect Regularities of the Physical World and Human Body

To approach these broad issues, my colleagues Barbara Tversky, Maggie Lanca, and Nancy Franklin, and I have examined one situation in detail. We focused on a prototypic spatial situation, that of a person surrounded by objects, and used an experimental paradigm developed by Franklin and Tversky (1990) and extended by Bryant, Tversky, and Franklin (1992). This was first studied for the self in an array of objects. In the work described here, we considered one person (the subject) looking at another person who was surrounded by objects to their six body sides. A schematic diagram of this situation is shown in Fig. 13.1. The person is in a natural scene, such as a construction site, standing on a table or stepladder. Six objects are

located around the person, all directly aligned with a major body side. Although simple, this situation has ecological validity as well as being tractable. Most of the time, people find themselves in environments with objects located more or less to the sides of their bodies. The scene can be considered from an internal perspective of the person. Alternatively, one could take the perspective of someone outside the scene (as you are doing when viewing the picture).