Are Psychological Variables Relevant to Evaluating Geoinformatics Applications? The Case of Landmarks (Vision Paper)

Authors Jakub Krukar , Angela Schwering

Thumbnail PDF


  • Filesize: 0.75 MB
  • 13 pages

Document Identifiers

Author Details

Jakub Krukar
  • Institute for Geoinformatics, Universität Münster, Germany
Angela Schwering
  • Institute for Geoinformatics, Universität Münster, Germany


We wish to thank Eva Nuhn and Sabine Timpf for organising the workshop on "Modelling of landmark dimensions" held at the 8th International Conference on Spatial Cognition 2021, as well as all its participant for an inspiring discussion that lead us to writing this paper.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Jakub Krukar and Angela Schwering. Are Psychological Variables Relevant to Evaluating Geoinformatics Applications? The Case of Landmarks (Vision Paper). In 15th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2022). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 240, pp. 10:1-10:13, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2022)


Interdisciplinary integration of spatial cognition and spatial computation promises to create better spatial technology based on findings from cognitive psychology experiments. Using the example of psychological studies and computational modelling of landmarks, this paper argues that core evaluation criteria of both disciplines are not well aligned with the goal of evaluating landmark-enhanced navigation support systems that support users in everyday wayfinding. The paper raises two points. First, it reviews evaluation criteria used in the interdisciplinary field of landmark research. It is argued that when to consider the role of landmark-enhanced navigation support systems in everyday life of their users, different evaluation criteria are needed. If strictly-psychological or strictly-computational criteria continue being prioritised by the community, we risk undervaluing significant technological contributions. Second, it proposes one such potential criterion: testing whether the cognitive task has changed due to equipping users with the new technology. This goal might be achieved at the expense of criteria typical to strictly-psychological studies (such as spatial memory of landmarks along the travelled route) or strictly-computational studies (such as efficiency and accuracy of a landmark-selection algorithm). Thus, promoting and implementing alternative evaluation criteria comes with methodological risks. In order to mitigate them we propose a process based on pre-registration of "postdiction" studies and hope to stimulate a further debate on a consensus-based approach in the community.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Human-centered computing → Empirical studies in ubiquitous and mobile computing
  • Applied computing → Psychology
  • wayfinding
  • navigation support systems
  • cognitive geoengineering
  • landmarks


  • Access Statistics
  • Total Accesses (updated on a weekly basis)
    PDF Downloads


  1. Chittaranjan Andrade. HARKing, Cherry-Picking, P-Hacking, Fishing Expeditions, and Data Dredging and Mining as Questionable Research Practices. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 82(1), 2021. URL:
  2. Richard Arias-Hernandez, Tera M Green, and Brian Fisher. From Cognitive Amplifiers to Cognitive Prostheses: Understandings of the Material Basis of Cognition in Visual Analytics. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 37(1):4-18, 2013. URL:
  3. Ulrich Dirnagl. Preregistration of exploratory research: Learning from the golden age of discovery. PLOS Biology, 18(3):e3000690, 2020. URL:
  4. Itiel E Dror and Stevan Harnad. Offloading cognition onto cognitive technology. In Cognition Distributed: How Cognitive Technology Extends Our Minds, volume 16, pages 1-23. John Benjamins Publishing, 2008. URL:
  5. Kenneth M. Ford, Clark Glymour, and Patrick J. Hayes. On the Other Hand ... Cognitive Prostheses. AI Magazine, 18(3):104, 1997. URL:
  6. Marcelo De Lima Galvão, Jakub Krukar, Martin Nöllenburg, and Angela Schwering. Route schematization with landmarks. Journal of Spatial Information Science, 21:99-136, December 2020. URL:
  7. Douglas J. Hermann. The potential of cognitive technology. In W. Richard Walker and Douglas J. Herrmann, editors, Cognitive Technology: Essays on the Transformation of Thought and Society, pages 5-19. McFarland & Co, Jefferson, N.C, 2005. Google Scholar
  8. Edwin Hutchins. Cognition in the Wild. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, US, 1995. Google Scholar
  9. Hans IJzerman, Neil A. Lewis, Andrew K. Przybylski, Netta Weinstein, Lisa DeBruine, Stuart J. Ritchie, Simine Vazire, Patrick S. Forscher, Richard D. Morey, James D. Ivory, and Farid Anvari. Use caution when applying behavioural science to policy. Nature Human Behaviour, 4(11):1092-1094, 2020. URL:
  10. Alan Kingstone, Daniel Smilek, and John D. Eastwood. Cognitive Ethology: A new approach for studying human cognition. British Journal of Psychology, 99(3):317-340, 2008. URL:
  11. John K. Kruschke. Bayesian Assessment of Null Values Via Parameter Estimation and Model Comparison. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(3):299-312, 2011. URL:
  12. Rui Li, Amichi Korda, Maurin Radtke, and Angela Schwering. Visualising distant off-screen landmarks on mobile devices to support spatial orientation. Journal of Location Based Services, 8(3):166-178, 2014. URL:
  13. K Lynch. The Image of the City. MIT Press, 1960. Google Scholar
  14. Daniel R Montello. Cognitive Research in GIScience: Recent Achievements and Future Prospects. Geography Compass, 3(5):1824-1840, 2009. URL:
  15. Daniel R. Montello. Landmarks are Exaggerated. KI - Künstliche Intelligenz, 31(2):193-197, 2017. URL:
  16. Brian A. Nosek, Charles R. Ebersole, Alexander C. DeHaven, and David T. Mellor. The preregistration revolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(11):201708274, 2018. URL:
  17. Rajchandar Padmanaban and Jakub Krukar. Increasing the density of local landmarks in wayfinding instructions for the visually impaired. In Georg Gartner and Haosheng Huang, editors, Progress in Location-Based Services 2016, pages 131-150, Cham, 2017. Springer International Publishing. Google Scholar
  18. Denise Peters, Yunhui Wu, and Stephan Winter. Testing Landmark Identification Theories in Virtual Environments. In Christoph Hölscher, Thomas F. Shipley, Marta Olivetti Belardinelli, John A. Bateman, and Nora S. Newcombe, editors, Spatial Cognition VII, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pages 54-69, Berlin, Heidelberg, 2010. Springer. URL:
  19. Martin Raubal. Cognitive engineering for geographic information science. Geography Compass, 3(3):1087-1104, 2009. URL:
  20. Angela Schwering, Jakub Krukar, Rui Li, Vanessa Joy Anacta, and Stefan Fuest. Wayfinding Through Orientation. Spatial Cognition & Computation, 17(4):273-303, 2017. URL:
  21. Alastair D Smith, Gary Priestnall, and Juliette Cross. Supporting spatial orientation during route following through dynamic maps with off-screen landmark persistence. Spatial Cognition & Computation, pages 1-28, 2021. URL:
  22. Donald E Stokes. Pasteur’s Quadrant: Basic Science and Technological Innovation. Brookings Institution Press, 1997. Google Scholar
  23. Tyler Thrash, Sara Lanini-Maggi, Sara I. Fabrikant, Sven Bertel, Annina Brügger, Sascha Credé, Cao Tri Do, Georg Gartner, Haosheng Huang, Stefan Münzer, and Kai-Florian Richter. The Future of Geographic Information Displays from GIScience, Cartographic, and Cognitive Science Perspectives (Vision Paper). In Sabine Timpf, Christoph Schlieder, Markus Kattenbeck, Bernd Ludwig, and Kathleen Stewart, editors, 14th International Conference on Spatial Information Theory (COSIT 2019), volume 142 of Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), pages 19:1-19:11, Dagstuhl, Germany, 2019. Schloss Dagstuhlendash Leibniz-Zentrum fuer Informatik. URL:
  24. Eric-Jan Wagenmakers, Ruud Wetzels, Denny Borsboom, Han L. J. van der Maas, and Rogier A. Kievit. An Agenda for Purely Confirmatory Research. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(6):632-638, 2012. URL:
  25. Jan M. Wiener, Simon J. Büchner, and Christoph Hölscher. Taxonomy of Human Wayfinding Tasks: A Knowledge-Based Approach. Spatial Cognition & Computation, 9(2):152-165, 2009. URL:
  26. Anna Wunderlich, Sabine Grieger, and Klaus Gramann. Landmark information included in turn-by-turn instructions induce incidental acquisition of lasting route knowledge. Spatial Cognition & Computation, pages 1-26, 2022. URL:
  27. Demet Yesiltepe, Ruth Conroy Dalton, and Ayse Ozbil Torun. Landmarks in wayfinding: a review of the existing literature. Cognitive Processing, 22(3):369-410, 2021. URL:
Questions / Remarks / Feedback

Feedback for Dagstuhl Publishing

Thanks for your feedback!

Feedback submitted

Could not send message

Please try again later or send an E-mail