Where is upstate New York? Cognitive evaluations of geographical regions

Authors: Rui Li*, SUNY - Albany, Andrew Kim, SUNY-Albany
Topics: Environmental Perception, Behavioral Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: environmental perpection, spatial cognition, vague space, geographic information
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download



Upstate New York is a concept referred by general public quite often. A recent example is that one governor candidate commented that the region of upstate is the area north of Ithaca. Motivated by many discussions raised by this comment, this study intend to investigate how Upstate New York is represented in human’s mental representations, as humans commonly think and refer to regions without a crisp boundary. This study utilized behavioral approaches to investigate the conceptualization of regions through two tasks: drawing the region where the upstate or downstate is and categorization of different regions within the state. The first task aimed to identify the region where surveyed New York residents consider as upstate in relation to their locations of residence. The second task was to examine the conceptualized different regions within the state and compare the categories created in mental representations with regions established by the state government. The results showed different conceptualizations of upstate based on participant’s locations of residence. The results also showed not only differences among the categorization of regions within the state but also difference in comparison with the regions defined by the state government. This study discusses the usage of those terms of regions with vague boundaries and the possibility use in future visualization and design of geospatial product that reflect general public’s conceptualization of regions.

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