Mental modelling: Part 3
Check your answers by now going back to the picture and by actually seeing whether your answers are correct or not.
This kind of example can be used to make several important points. First, and we will return to this later, in storing the picture the claim is that such storage preserves a particular point of view – the mental representation of the picture captured the image as shown on the page…
Student, Farmer, Scientist
…all looking at you.
In so doing the spatial relations between the individuals were also preserved. This seems obvious, but we need to tread very carefully here – which spatial relations are we talking about?
If you answered Question 1 correctly then clearly the spatial relations defined in terms of your own point of view. The student is to my left, the farmer is straight ahead and the scientist is to my right.
But let’s start with this and explore the claim that the mental representation of the picture captures only those spatial relations relative to your own point of view.
We can therefore ask if it is possible to work on the mental representation and recover other information that is not stored? To probe this there is Question 2. Question 2 now asks you to work on the information stored in your mental representation and recover spatial relations from someone else’s point of view? Can you recover the spatial disposition of the people in the picture from the scientist’s point of view? Again, if you answered Question 2 correctly then we might conclude that it is possible to work on a mental representation to recover spatial relations that are not actually stored.
The idea that can you can work on your mental representation to discover novel things about the world is fundamental. If you were successful in answering Question 3 then it appears that you can take the key components of the representation and combine these in different ways – remember productivity and language?- well here we have an example of productivity in thought.
Finally Question 4 taps into how our mental representations can be intimately tied in with our knowledge of the world. Because the student has his hands empty and the Farmer has his hands full then the scientist should ask the student to hold her clipboard.
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