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Latent Learning and the Formation of a Spatiotemporal Cognitive Map of a Road Network

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Document pages: 25 pages

Abstract: This paper discusses two main themes. First, it investigates the formation of a spatiotemporal cognitive map (mental image) of a road network in travelers’ memory, which entails the travelers’ global conceptual understanding of congestion or the degree of crowding of the network. Second, it tries to investigate how latent learning of travelers from previous experiences shapes parts of the mental image, even for the parts of the network with which the travelers are unfamiliar. An experiment of route choice experiences was conducted among 90 participants in order to gain insight into the formation of a cognitive map and latent learning. In this experiment, the following independent variables are connected to the formation of a mental image of the network and the quality of the generalization of the unfamiliar parts of the network: (i) dispersion of the links’ travel time throughout the network, (ii) number of trips the traveler makes, (iii) traveler’s gender, (iv) traveler’s driving experiences, (v) traveler’s natural level of optimism or pessimism, (vi) salient or noticeable features on the network, and (vii) the presence of traffic signals. Several nonparametric (distribution-free) tests are employed to test the hypotheses. The results indicate that apart from the traveler’s gender and salient or noticeable features on the network, the considered factors significantly affect the degree of the recognizability of the network elements by travelers.

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