Attitudes and cognitive distances: On the non-unitary and flexible nature of cognitive maps

Faculty/Professorship: General Psychology and Methodology  
Author(s): Carbon, Claus-Christian  ; Hesslinger, Vera M.
Title of the Journal: Advances in cognitive psychology
ISSN: 1895-1171
Corporate Body: University of Finance and Management
Publisher Information: Warsaw
Year of publication: 2013
Volume: 9
Issue: 3
Pages: 121-129 ; Illustrationen, Diagramme
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.5709/acp-0140-y
Spatial relations of our environment are represented in cognitive maps. These cognitive maps are prone to various distortions (e.g., alignment and hierarchical effects) caused by basic cognitive factors (such as perceptual and conceptual reorganization) but also by affectively loaded and attitudinal influences. Here we show that even differences in attitude towards a single person repre-
senting a foreign country (here Barack Obama and the USA) can be related to drastic differences in the cognitive representation of distances concerning that country. Europeans who had a positive attitude towards Obama’s first presidential program estimated distances between US and European cities as being much smaller than did people who were skeptical or negative towards Obama's ideas. On the basis of this result and existing literature, arguments on the non-unitary and flexible nature of cognitive maps are discussed.
Keywords: cognitive geography, cognitive distortions, cognitive map, heuristics, social attitudes, continental drift, Obama, mental wall, distance estimations, distortion, bias
Type: Article
Year of publication: 30. October 2013