Factors related to social wayfinding: environment, ability, and anxiety

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University of Alabama Libraries

Two experiments and a qualitative study investigate variables that predict different aspects of wayfinding. The first experiment investigated the extent to which sense of direction, general anxiety, spatial anxiety, gender, and a non-threatening or threatening description of environments predicted perceived threat in the environment. In addition, the experiment compared and contrasted spatial and general anxiety, investigating the nature of these two measures as wayfinding variables. Sense of direction, gender, and the described environment manipulation predicted perceived threat for a walking scenario while general anxiety predicted perceived threat for a driving scenario. The second experiment investigated the extent to which spatial anxiety, general anxiety, perceived threat, the environmental threat description manipulation, and gender predicted likelihood of asking for directions from strangers and acquaintances. Higher general anxiety predicted lower likelihood of asking strangers for directions, while having no predictive value for familiar persons (as expected). The third study was a qualitative analysis of participants' essays remembering their thoughts and behaviors from the last time they were lost or disoriented by themselves, revealing that self-reported descriptions included the variables of interest (thoughts regarding one's sense of direction, anxious feelings, and environmental assessment).

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Cognitive psychology, Experimental psychology, Psychology