Spatial egocentrism and the effect of an alternate frame of reference

Clark C. Presson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The present study contrasted two possible explanations of spatial egocentrism in spatial perspective tasks. By one account children's judgments in perspectivetaking tasks are based on relations between the self (ego) and the target array. By the second account, children's judgments are based on relations between the target array and the larger spatial field. Sixty children in first, third, and fifth grades (ages 7, 9, and 11 years, respectively) solved both a standard and a modified version of a spatial perspective task. In the modified procedure, subjects observed a model of the experimental room that was rotated to appear as the actual room would appear to a hypothetical viewer. Using the model as an alternative frame of reference improved the performance of subjects in all age groups. In the standard procedure most errors were egocentric. In the modified procedure, subjects showed no systematic egocentric errors for rotations of 90 or 270°. The results supported the hypothesis that systematic egocentric errors are due to subjects realistically maintaining the relation of the array to the immediate spatial field, rather than maintaining the ego-array relation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1980
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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