Working memory, map learning, and spatial orientation: The effects of gender and encoding interference on the acquisition of survey knowledge.

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name





Psychology, Cognitive.




The present experiment investigated the effects of gender and encoding interference on the retrieval of spatial knowledge in a group of 24 male and 29 female students aged 18 to 43 (M = 23.33; SD = 5.78), with 12 to 20 years of education (M = 14.33; SD = 1.76). Each participant was tested individually on their ability to study a map containing 14 labelled landmarks in 1 of 3 interference conditions (i.e., no interference, articulatory suppression, and spatial interference). Then, the participant was blindfolded and asked to point to different aspects of the environment, varying in degrees of familiarity. Specifically, they were asked to indicate the orientation of 4 familiar cardinal directions (over-learned), 4 obscure cardinal directions (intermediate), and 10 landmarks (novel); the latter were cued verbally or visually. Response latency and accuracy were measured. Mixed ANOVAs were conducted with gender (2) and interference (3) as between-subjects factors and cue modality (2) or level of exposure (3) to the environment as within-subjects factors. The results revealed a marked decrease in orientation error and response latency with increasing degrees of familiarity (exposure). In addition, landmarks cued verbally yielded faster and more accurate responses than landmarks cued visually. Also, the presence of any encoding interference during the map study phase resulted in lower accuracy (higher error), especially in the recall of novel information. Lastly, verbal interference affected the accuracy of females to orient to landmarks more than males and the spatial interference yielded the opposite pattern. The findings are discussed in terms of models of working memory, spatial cognition, and gender differences.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis2005 .M37. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 44-03, page: 1521. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 2005.