Individual differences in a spatial-semantic virtual environment

Chaomei Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


This article presents two studies concerning the role of individual differences in searching through a spatial-semantic virtual environment. In the first study, 10 subjects searched for two topics through a spatial user interface of a semantic space. A strong positive correlation was found between associative memory (MA-1) and search performance (r = 0.855, p = 0.003), but no significant correlation was found between visual memory (MV-1) and search performance. In the second study, 12 subjects participated in a within-subject experimental design. The same spatial user interface and a simple textual user interface were used. The effects of spatial ability (VZ-2), associative memory (MA-1), and on-line experience were tested on a set of interrelated search performance scores. A statistically significant main effect of on-line experience was found, F(6, 4) = 6.213, p = 0.049, two-tailed. In particular, on-line experience has a significant effect on the recall scores with the textual interface. Individuals experienced in on-line search are more likely to have a higher recall score with the textual interface than less experienced individuals. No significant main effects were found for spatial ability and associative memory. Subjects' comments suggest a potentially complex interplay between individuals' mental models and the high-dimensional semantic model. Qualitative and process-oriented studies are, therefore, called for to reveal the complex interaction between individuals' cognitive abilities, domain knowledge, and direct manipulation skills. A recommendation is made that spatial-semantic models should be adaptable to suit individuals and tasks at various levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-542
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence


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