Considerations of Graphical Proximity and Geographical Nearness

Author Francis Harvey

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Francis Harvey
  • Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography and University Leipzig, Schongauerstr. 9, 04275 Leipzig, Germany

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Francis Harvey. Considerations of Graphical Proximity and Geographical Nearness. In 10th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2018). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 114, pp. 4:1-4:18, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2018)


"Near things are more similar than more distant things" states Tobler's first law of geography. This seems obvious and is part to much cognitive research into the perception of the environment. The statement's validity for assessments of geographical nearness purely from map symbols has yet to be ascertained. This paper considers this issue through a theoretical framework grounded in Gestalt concepts, behavioral ecological psychology and information psychology. It sets out to consider how influential experience or training may be on the association of graphical proximity with geographical nearness. A pilot study presents some initial findings. The findings regarding the influence of experience or training are ambiguous, but point to the rapid acquisition of affordances in the survey instruments as another factor for future research.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Human-centered computing → Empirical studies in visualization
  • proximity
  • nearness
  • perception
  • cognition


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