Journal of Cognitive Psychology 29 (3):269-278 (2017)

Authors
Yacin Hamami
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
John Mumma
California State University, San Bernardino
Abstract
Spatial relations are central to geometrical thinking. With respect to the classical elementary geometry of Euclid’s Elements, a distinction between co-exact, or qualitative, and exact, or metric, spatial relations has recently been advanced as fundamental. We tested the universality of intuitions of these relations in a group of Senegalese and Dutch participants. Participants performed an odd-one-out task with stimuli that in all but one case display a particular spatial relation between geometric objects. As the exact/co-exact distinction is closely related to Kosslyn’s categorical/coordinate distinction, a set of stimuli for testing all four types was used. Results suggest that intuitions of all spatial relations tested are universal. Yet, culture has an important effect on performance: Dutch participants outperformed Senegalese participants and stimulus layouts affect the categorical and coordinate processing in different ways for the two groups. Differences in level of education within the Senegalese participants did not affect performance.
Keywords Geometric diagrams  Euclid's Elements  Exact and co-exact spatial relations  Categorical and coordinate spatial relations  Cross-cultural study  Universal intuitions of geometry
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