Stepping into someone else’s shoes: children create spatial mental models from the protagonist’s point of view

Ziegler, Fenja V. and Acquah, Daniel K. (2013) Stepping into someone else’s shoes: children create spatial mental models from the protagonist’s point of view. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10 (5). pp. 546-562. ISSN 1740-5629

Full content URL:

Full text not available from this repository.

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


We know very little about children’s ability to create complex mental models from verbal descriptions. This paucity might be explained by the difficulty of creating paradigms that would test analogous skills in this domain in children and adults. In two experiments we explore young children’s ability to take the perspective of a character central to a described scene and to dynamically update object relations when the character moves. In experiment 1, children were found to take the character’s perspective when they learned the layout of objects in a real-life model. In experiment 2 children learned the layout from text and gave responses to object location prompts in a computer based task measuring response times on a touchscreen. In line with predictions from adult spatial framework theory (Bryant, Tversky & Franklin, 1992), children recalled objects fastest and more accurately that were placed in front or behind the character, and slowest for objects placed left or right. Based on a novel methodology, these findings reveal that children take an internal perspective on a described scene, which differs from the perspective they learned the layout from, indicating that at a young age children form rich, dynamic mental models of described scenes.

Additional Information:Published online: 30 Nov 2012
Keywords:mental models, spatial learning, perspective-taking, spatial framework theory, narrative comprehension, response times
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
Related URLs:
ID Code:6796
Deposited On:11 Nov 2012 20:35

Repository Staff Only: item control page