In order to be able to take spatially relevant decisions (orientation), people resort to mental representations which however only depict a distorted reflection of the surroundings. Currently, there are no experimental map studies which explore the question of which cartographic means and elements can contribute to a more efficient construction of mental models. The intention is in the context of this interdisciplinary, i.e. cartographically and cognition-psychologically designed, project to systematically and experimentally examine how the knowledge about the human memory structure can contribute to optimising theory-based map design. In this regard, cognitive ordering principles (hierarchisations) represent a central approach in the project. The intention is to identify and quantify those efficiency-increasing parameters which favour such hierarchisations on the spatial/locality memory level and/or on the distance and position estimates level.
In order to do so, in a series of experimental tests, cartographic instruments, such as the highlighting of intrinsic spatial topographic structures (river courses, boundaries) or the inserting of cartographic structures (grids), have to be developed and systematically varied, as well as tested with respect to their distortion tendencies. In additional to behavioural experiments, eye movement measurements utilised increasingly in cartography to reveal causal relationships should be applied. The results can flow into a criteria-supported set of rules and contribute decisively to overcoming deficiencies in theoretical map modelling designs and to enhance the efficiency of cartographic visualisations, e.g. in geographic information systems, navigation systems or immersive 3D working environments.