Examining reference frame interaction in spatial memory using a distribution analysis

Whitney N. Street, Ranxiao Frances Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous research showed competition among reference frames in spatial attention and language. The present studies developed a new distribution analysis to examine reference frame interactions in spatial memory. Participants viewed virtual arrays of colored pegs and were instructed to remember them either from their own perspective or from the perspective aligned with the rectangular floor. Then they made judgments of relative directions from their respective encoding orientation. Those taking the floor-axis perspective showed systematic bias in the signed errors toward their egocentric perspective, while those taking their own perspective showed no systematic bias, both for random and symmetrical object arrays. The bias toward the egocentric perspective was observed when learning a real symmetric regular object array with strong environmental cues for the aligned axis. These results indicate automatic processing of the self reference while taking the floor-axis perspective but not vice versa, and suggest that research on spatial memory needs to consider the implications of competition effects in reference frame use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Error distribution
  • Judgment of relative direction
  • Reference frame
  • Spatial memory
  • Systematic bias

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Examining reference frame interaction in spatial memory using a distribution analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this