Constructing Spatial Representations from Narratives and Non-Narrative Descriptions: Evidence from 7-year-olds

Authors Angela Nyhout, Daniela K. O'Neill

Thumbnail PDF


  • Filesize: 345 kB
  • 8 pages

Document Identifiers

Author Details

Angela Nyhout
Daniela K. O'Neill

Cite AsGet BibTex

Angela Nyhout and Daniela K. O'Neill. Constructing Spatial Representations from Narratives and Non-Narrative Descriptions: Evidence from 7-year-olds. In 2013 Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative. Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 32, pp. 158-165, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2013)


Although narratives often contain detailed descriptions of space and setting and readers frequently report vividly imagining these story worlds, evidence for the construction of spatial representations during narrative processing is currently mixed. In the present study, we investigated 7 year old children's ability to construct spatial representations of narrative spaces and compared this to the ability to construct representations from non-narrative descriptions. We hypothesized that performance would be better in the narrative condition, where children have the opportunity to construct a multi-dimensional situation model built around the character's motivations and actions. Children listened to either a narrative that included a character traveling between 5 locations in her neighbourhood or a description of the same 5-location neighbourhood. Those in the narrative condition significantly outperformed those in the description condition in constructing the layout of the neighbourhood locations. Moreover, regression analyses revealed that whereas performance on the narrative version was predicted by narrative comprehension ability, performance on the description version was predicted by working memory ability. These results suggest the possibility that building spatial representations from narratives and non-narratives may engage different cognitive processes.
  • narrative
  • developmental psychology
  • spatial representation
  • mental models


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