Assessing and Improving Geographic Belief: A Cognitive Approach




Brown, Norman R.
Friedman, Alinda

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The Grosvenor Center for Geographic Education


Over the past several years, we have conducted numerous experiments designed to assess what people know about world geography and to determine how new facts affect prior knowledge. Typically, participants first estimate the latitudes or longitudes of cities in different parts of the world. Next, they are given information about the actual location of a small number of these cities and provide a second set of estimates. These location estimates are converted to representations, called location profiles, which convey information about estimation accuracy, the subjective division of continents and countries into regions, biased beliefs about the location of these regions, and beliefs about the relations between regions both within and between continents. In addition, differences between the first and second estimates indicate how representations of global geography are updated when people learn new location information about individual cities. This article provides an introduction to this research, and summarises its main findings.



subjective geography, location profile, bias, category, seeding


Brown, N. R., & Friedman, A. (1999). Assessing and improving geographic belief: A cognitive approach. Research in Geographic Education, 1(1), pp. 1-13.


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