Revisiting the Relationship between Allocentric-Heading Recall and Self-Reported Sense of Direction


Sense-of-direction (SOD) has been described as a system that tracks the body’s facing direction relative to an environmental reference frame (allocentric heading). To study this system, Sholl, Kenny, and DellaPorta (2006) developed a heading-recall task and found that task accuracy correlated highly with self-reported SOD measures. This study attempts to replicate and extend their findings, by increasing task accuracy, and testing alternative hypotheses about factors that could affect task performance. In a heading-recall task, participants estimated allocentric heading from pictures of familiar locations on a college campus. Previous results were replicated, but a weaker relationship between SOD and performance, and a novel relationship between location familiarity and performance were found. These results provide support for a human allocentric heading system but suggest that self-reported SOD potentially measures a range of abilities and not solely the operation of this system.

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