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Regions and Regionalization in Spatial Cognition

Dr. Daniel R. Montello, Professor, Department of Geography, Affiliated Professor, Department of Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

Geographic regions are (approximately) 2-D pieces of the Earth’s surface. No two places on the Earth’s surface are identical, but by generalizing over unique characteristics, people identify (mostly) contiguous sets of places that are similar to each other but dissimilar from places in other regions. Thus, regionalization is spatial categorization. Regions play an important role in the way geographers and other earth and environmental scientists organize their thinking and communication about the Earth. They also play a central role in the way laypersons think and communicate, probably including people from all times and cultures. That is, regionalization is very likely to be universal, cognitively and culturally. In this talk, I discuss the fundamental concept of regions and regionalization, identifying various types of regions and their properties, one of their most interesting being boundary vagueness. I then focus specifically on cognitive regions—regions in the mind that reflect how individuals or cultures informally organize the Earth’s surface. I review research on regions in spatial perception and cognition, including their influence on distance, direction, and similarity judgments. 

Date: 18.12.2009

Time: 15:30 h

Location: Geb. 106, Raum 04 007, Universität Freiburg

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