Go to index page Mental Maps Explained Examples of Mental Mapping History of Mental Mapping Books, Report, Bibliographies related to mental mapping


Over the years a large literature dedicated to mental mapping has accumulated. Most of it can be found in geography, but as Sorin Matei's project demonstrates, this methodology can be successfully applied to cognate areas.

This page lists a limited number of mental mapping projects and papers which can assist those interested in this fascinating topic.

Copyright Sorin A Matei, 2003-2007
Last update: June 11, 2007 Contact: mental@matei.org




Visible Past

Visible Past proposes a cross platform, scalable environment (Exploratorium) for collaborative social, geographic, and historical education and research. The Exploratorium will be deployed in a variety of settings, from Web to fully immersive virtual reality environments. Educational activities can be formal (classroom teaching) or informal (conducted in a museum or self–directed online learning setting). The specific goals of the Exploratorium concept are two–fold: 1) to create a set of tools for collecting, organizing, or disseminating knowledge in a collaborative manner at various scales and in various formats; and, 2) to extend and refine a theoretical framework and methodological tools for prototyping and testing future research and learning applications and architectures that benefit from mental mapping and 3D and location aware applications. The heart of the Visible Past Exploratorium concept, the Exploratorium, is an information space built on top of a georeferenced wiki database that can be accessed through a variety of avenues: full immersion 3D environments, Web interfaces, or Geographic Exploration Systems (GES), such as Google Earth or NASA’s World Wind.

Matei, S. A., Miller, C. C., Arns, L., Rauh, N., Hartman, C., & Bruno, R. (2007). Visible Past: Learning and discovering in real and virtual space and time, First Monday (Vol. 12) .

Matei, S. A., Madsen, L., Bertoline, G., Arns, L., Ren, M., & Davidson, A. (2006, June). The cognitive impact of location-aware information systems. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Dresden, Germany.


The project explores the Transylvanian urban landscape of memory. A representative sample of urban inhabitants of Braşov, Romania, is interviewed in depth to capture mental maps of fear and affective belonging in time and space. The study is especially interested in the intersection between space, time and power relationships across ethnic and political divides.

Click for higher resolution picture

A mental map of urban comfort and fear in Braşov.

A kml file of the same area visible in Google Earth


Laszlo Lentnyei's Cognitive Mapping Research Site in Hungary

Metamorphosis Project

This is the project that has supported Sorin Matei's research. This is a multi-year study, conducted at Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, directed by Professor Sandra Ball-Rokeach.

Two representative papers resulted from the Metamorphosis project:

Fear and misperception of Los Angeles urban space
(Published in Communication Research, 2001, 28(4), 429-463)

Watts, the 1965 Los Angeles riots and the communicative construction of the fear epicenter of Los Angeles (presented at the American Sociological Association Annual Conference, Chicago, August, 2002)



Lexington Neighborhoods Project

This is a project directed by Sorin Matei in Lexington, Kentucky, which analyzes the way in which mental maps and communication channels interact.


Leeds University Mental Mapping


Mental Mapping Bibliography

Abu-Lughod, J. L. (1999). New York, Chicago, Los Angeles: America's global cities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Aitken, S. C. (1987). Households moving with the rental sector: mental schemata and search spaces. Environment & Planning A, 19(3), 369-383.

Allen, J. P., & Turner, E. (1996). Spatial patterns of immigrant assimilation. Professional Geographer, 48(2), 140-155.

Allen, R. L., & Hatchett, S. (1986). The media and social reality effects: Self and system orientations of Blacks. Communication Research, 13(1), 97-123.

Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: Reflections on the orgin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Anselin, L. (1995). Local indicators of spatial association-LISA. Geographical Analysis, 27(2), 93-115.

Antunes, G. E., Cook, F. L., & Skogan, W. D. (1977). Patterns of personal crime against the elderly. Gerontologist, 17(4), 321-327.

Axelsen, B., & Jones, M. (1987). Are all maps mental maps? GeoJournal, 14(4), 447-464.

Badiuk, E. G., & Lehr, J. C. (1984). The mental maps of Winnipeg grade six students. Regina Geographical Studies, 4, 11-31.

Bailey, T. C. (1994). A review of statistical spatial analysis in GIS. In A. S. Fotheringham & P. Rogerson (Eds.), Spatial analysis and GIS (pp. 13-44). London: Taylor and Francis.

Bailly, A. (1987). Des images mentales de Fribourg; trois images pour deux groupes culturels On mental maps of the city of Fribourg: three images for two cultural groups. Cahiers - Institut de Geographie de Fribourg, 5, 99-106.

Ball-Rokeach, S. (1999). Metamorphosis: Methodology. Los Angeles: Annenberg School for Communication, Communication, Community and Technology Program.

Ball-Rokeach, S., Gibbs, J., Gutierrez Hoyt, E., Jung, J.-Y., Kim, Y.-C., Matei, S., et al. (2000). The challenge of belonging in the 21st century: the case of Los Angeles (White Paper No. 1). Los Angeles: Annenberg School for Communication, Metamorphosis Project.

Bandura, A. (1977). Social learning theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall.

Barber, G. M. (1988). Elementary statistics for geographers. New York: The Guilford Press.

Bar-Gal, Y. (1980). The image of environment and mental maps in rural areas: the case of a kibbutz in Israel. Human Ecology, 8(3), 277-283.

Bartnicka, M. (1987). Preferencje mieszkaniowe warszawskich studentow: studium z geografii percepcji Residential preferences of Warsaw students - a study in perception geography. Przeglad Geograficzny, 59(4), 543-560.

Baumer, T. L. (1979). Research on fear of crime in the United States. Victimology, 3, 254-263.

Belk, R. W. (1996). Hyperreality and globalization: Culture in the age of Ronald McDonald. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 8(3-4), 23-37.

Bell, D. (1976). The coming of post-industrial society. A venture in social forecasting. New York: Basic Books.

Bellah, R. N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W., Swidler, A., & Tipton, S. M. (1996). Habits of the Heart. Individualism and Commitment in American Life (1996 ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press.

Beniger, J. (1994). Communication - Embrace the subject not the field. In M. R. Levy & M. Gurevitch (Eds.), Defining media studies: Reflections on the future of the field (pp. 26-33). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Berger, P. L., & Luckman, T. (1980). The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge (1st Irvington ed. ed.). New York: Irvington Publishers.

Berry, S. H. (1988). Los Angeles today and tomorrow--results of the Los Angeles 2000 community survey (Survey No. R-3705-LA2000). Santa Monica: The RAND Corporation.

Bertrand, R. J. M. J. (1984). Mental mapping experiments at ITC. ITC Journal, 1, 68-72.

Bobo, L., & Zubrinsky, C. L. (1996). Attitudes on residential integration: perceived status differences, mere in-group preference, or racial prejudice? Social Forces, 74(3), 883-909.

Carter, R. (1979). The criminal's image of the city. New York: Pergamon Press.

Cassirer, E. (1944). An essay on man. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Clarke, A. H., & Lewis, M. J. (1982). Fear of crime among the elderly. British Journal of Criminology, 22, 49-62.

Cliff, A. D., & Ord, J. K. (1973). Spatial autocorrelation. London: Pion.

Collison, P., & Kennedy, J. (1981). The social pattern of personal geographies. Regional Studies, 15(4), 247-262

Coppock, J. T., & Rhind, D. W. (1991). The History of GIS. In D. J. Maguire, M. F. Goodchild & D. W. Rhind (Eds.), Geographical Information Systems: Principles and applications (pp. 21-43): John Wiley and Sons.

Cortada, J. (1996). Information technology as business history : issues in the history and management of computers. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Cressie, N. A. C. (1993). Statistics for spatial data. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Davis, M. (1990). City of quartz: Excavating the future in Los Angeles. London, New York: Verso.

Davis, M. (1998). Ecology of fear : Los Angeles and the imagination of disaster (1st ed.). New York: Metropolitan Books.

De Castro Aguirre, C., & Bosque Sendra, J. (1993). Mapas mentales de la Espana autonomica: la preferencia residencial Mental maps of Spain's regions: residential preferences. Estudios Geograficos, 54(211), 181-207.

Dear, M. J., Schockman, H. E., & Hise, G. (1996). Rethinking Los Angeles. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

DeFrances, C., & Smith, S. K. (1998). Perceptions of neighborhood crime, 1995 (Special Report No. NCJ-165811). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.

Dohrs, f. E., & Sommers, L. M. (Eds.). (1967). Cultural Geography. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Doob, A. N., & MacDonald, G. E. (1979). Television viewing and fear of victimization: Is the relationship causal? Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 37(2), 170-179.

Downs, R. M. (1981). Maps and metaphors. Professional Geographer, 33(3), 287-293.

Downs, R. M., & Stea, D. (1973). Image and environment: Cognitive mapping and spatial behavior. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.

Downs, R. M., & Stea, D. (1977). Maps in minds: Reflections on cognitive mapping. New York: Harper & Row.

Dramowicz, K. (1990). Application of GIS for the cognitive mapping. In GIS for the 1990s. Proc. national conference, Ottawa, 1990 (pp. 1109-1123): Cism.

Egenhofer, M. J., & Golledge, R. G. (1998). Spatial and temporal reasoning in geographic information systems. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ethington, P. J. (1996). Race-Ethnicity, space, and political fragmentation in Los Angeles County, 1940-1996 (Proposal to Haynes Foundation). Los Angeles: University of Southern California.

Ethington, P. J. (2000, August 11, 2000). Segregated diversity: Race-ethnicity, space, and political fragmentation in Los Angeles county, 1940-1994. Retrieved September 25, 2000, from [On-line]. Available: http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/history/historylab/Haynes_FR/index.html

Fears, D. (1999, April 23). Rejecting race as an identity. Los Angeles Times, p. A1.

Ferraro, K. F. (1995). Fear of crime. New York: New York Press.

Figlio, R. M. (1991). Analyzing vulnerability. Bank Management, 67, 54-57.

Figlio, R. M. (1991). The risk where we live. Security Management, 35, 88-95.

Figlio, R. M., & Somerson, I. S. (1990). Fighting crime with statistics and loss reporting. Risk Management, 37, 47-50.

Fulton, W. (1997). The reluctant metropolis: The politics of urban growth in Los Angeles. Point Arena, CA: Solano Press Books.

Gans, H. J. (1979). Deciding what's news : a study of CBS evening news, NBC nightly news, Newsweek, and Time (1st ed.). New York: Pantheon Books.

Garcia, P. (1985). Immigration issues in urban ecology: The case of Los Angeles. In L. Maldonado & J. Moore (Eds.), Urban Ethnicity in the United States (Vol. 29, pp. 73-100). Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

Garofalo, J. (1979). Victimization and the fear of crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 16, 80-97.

Garofalo, J., & Laub, J. (1979). The fear of crime: Broadening our perspective. Victimology, 3(2), 242-253.

Gerbner, G. (1992). Crime and the American Press - Lotz, E. Contemporary Sociology-an International Journal of Reviews, 21(4), 502-503.

Gitlin, T. (1980). The whole world is watching : mass media in the making & unmaking of the New Left. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Glassner, B. (1999). The culture of fear: Why Americans are afraid of the wrong things (1st ed.). New York: Basic Books.

Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis : an essay on the organization of experience. New York: Harper & Row.

Golledge, R. G. (1980). A behavioral view of mobility and migration research. Professional Geographer, 32(1), 14-21.

Golledge, R. G. (1999). Wayfinding behavior: Cognitive mapping and other spatial processes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Golledge, R. G., & Moore, G. T. (1976). Environmental knowing: Theories, research, and methods. Stroudsburg, Pa.: Dowden Hutchinson & Ross.

Golledge, R. G., & Rushton, G. (1976). Spatial choice and spatial behavior: Geographic essays on the analysis of preferences and perceptions. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Golledge, R. G., & Stimson, R. J. (1997). Spatial behavior: A geographic perspective. New York: Guilford Press.

Golledge, R. G., & Timmermans, H. J. P. (1988). Behavioural modelling in geography and planning. London ; New York: Croom Helm.

Goodchild, M. (1999). CSISS - Center for Spatially Integrated Social Sciences (Website). Santa Barbara, CA: University of Santa Barbara.

Gould, P., & White, R. (1986). Mental maps (2nd ed.). Boston ; London: Allen & Unwin.

Green, N., & Donovan, M. (1979). Maps: one kind and another. Print, 33(2), 37-49.

Griffith, D. A. (1996). Spatial autocorrelation and eigenfunctions of the geographic weights matrix accompanying geo-referenced data. Canadian Geographer, 40(4), 251-367.

Heer, D. M., & Herman, P. (1990). A human mosaic: an atlas of ethnicity in Los Angeles County, 1980-1986. Panorama City: Western Economic Research Co.

Hise, G. (1997). Magnetic Los Angeles: Planning the twentieth-century metropolis. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Karan, P. P., & Bladen, W. A. (1982). Perception of the urban environment in a Third-World country. Geographical Review, 72(2), 228-232.

Karan, P. P., Bladen, W. A., & Singh, G. (1980). Slum dwellers' and squatters' images of the city ( India). Environment & Behavior, 12(1), 81-100.

Kearnery, A. R., & Kaplan, S. (1997). Toward a methodology for the measurement of knowledge structures of ordinary people: the conceptual content cognitive map (3CM). Environment and Behavior, 29(5), 579-617.

Kelly, G. A. (1955). The psychology of personal constructs. New York: Norton.

Kelly, M. E. (1994). Spatial analysis and GIS. In A. S. Fotheringham & P. Rogerson (Eds.), Spatial analysis and GIS (pp. 65-79). London: Taylor and Francis.

King, L. J., & Golledge, R. G. (1978). Cities, space, and behavior: The elements of urban geography. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

Kitchin, R. M. (1997). Exploring spatial thought. Environment and Behavior, 29(1), 123-156.

Kulhavy, R. W., & Stock, W. A. (1996). How cognitive maps are learned and remembered. Annals - Association of American Geographers, 86(1), 123-145.

Levine, N. (1996). Spatial statistics and GIS: Software tools to quantify spatial patterns. Journal of American Planning Association, 62(3), 381-389.

Lynch, K. (1960). The image of the city. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Manakov, A. G. (1997). Experience of use of mental maps for analysis of geographical ideas and preference. Izvestiya - Russkogo Geograficheskogo Obshchestva, 129(6), 40-47.

Matei, S. (2000, June 13-17). GIS mapping and modeling mass media influence on perception of urban space in Los Angeles. Paper presented at the USGIS Summer Assembly, Mount Hood Resort, Oregon.

Matei, S., Ball-Rokeach, S., & Qiu, J. (2001). Fear and misperception of Los Angeles urban space: A spatial-statistical study of communication-shaped mental maps. Communication Research, 28(4), 429-463.

Matei, S., Ball-Rokeach, S. J., Wilson, M., Gibbs, J., & Gutierrez Hoyt, E. (2001). Metamorphosis: A field research methodology for studying communication technology and community. Journal, 11 2. Retrieved, from http://www.cios.org/www/ejc/v11n201.htm

Matthews, M. H. (1980). The mental maps of children - images of Coventry's city centre. Geography, 65(3), 169-179.

McCann, E. J. (1999). Race, protest, and public space: contextualizing Lefebvre in the US city. Antipode, 31(2), 163-184.

McLeod, J. M., Daily, K., Guo, Z. S., Eveland Jr., W. P., Bayer, J., Yang, S. C., et al. (1996). Community integration, local media use, and democratic-processes. Communication Research, 23(2), 179-209.

Mohatny, C., Russo, A., & Torres, L. (Eds.). (1991). Third world women and the policts of feminism. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.

Morenoff, J., & Sampson, R. J. (1997). Violent crime and the spatial dynamics of neighborhood transition: Chicago, 1970-1990. Social Forces, 76(1), 31-64.

Morgan, W. B., & Moss, R. P. (1967). Geography and ecology: The concept of the community and its relationship to environment. In F. E. Dohrs & L. M. Sommers (Eds.), Cultural Geography (pp. 219-229): Thomas Y. Crowell.

Mumford, L. (1961). The city in history. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.

Murphy, P. E., & Golledge, R. G. (1972). Comments on the use of attitude as a variable in urban geography (Discussion paper No. 25). Columbus, OH: Dept. of Geography Ohio State University.

Murray, D., & Spencer, C. (1979). Individual differences in the drawing of cognitive maps: the effects of geographical mobility, strength of mental imagery and basic graphic ability. Transactions Institute of British Geographers, 4(3), 385-391.

Myers, D. (1999). Demographic dynamism and metropolitan change: Comparing Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Washington, DC. Housing Policy Debate. Fannie Mae Foundation, 10(4).

Myers, S. L., & Chung, C. (1998). Criminal perceptions and violent criminal victimization. Contemporary Economic Policy, 16(3), 321-343.

Nakamura, Y. (1979). Spatial patterns and residential preference systems of mental maps in Japan. Human Geography/Jimbun Chiri, 31(4), 19-32.

Nichols Jr, W. W. (1980). Mental maps, social characteristics, and criminal mobility ( Florida). In D. E. Georges-Abeyie (Ed.), Crime: a spatial perspective (pp. 156-166): Columbia University Press.

Nye, D. E. (1997). Narratives and spaces: technology and the construction of American culture. New York: Columbia University Press.

Olson, J. M. (1979). Cognitive cartographic experimentation. Canadian Cartographer, 16(1), 34-44.

Olson, J. M. (1984). Cognitive issues in map use. International Yearbook of Cartography, 24, 151-157.

Paulet, J. P. (1987). Cartes mentales et perception de l'environment. La representation des provencaux Mental maps and perception of the environment. Representation by inhabitants of Provence. Analyse Spatiale Quantitative et, Appliquee, 87-104.

Perse, E. M. (1990). Involvement with local television news: Cognitive and emotional dimensions. Human Communication Research, 16(4), 556-581.

Peterson, M. P. (1987). The mental image in cartographic communication. Cartographic Journal, 24(1), 35-41.

Pickles, J. (1995). Ground truth: the social implications of geographic information systems. New York: Guilford Press.

Pocock, D. C. D. (1979). The contribution of mental maps in perception studies. Geography, 64(4), 279-287.

Potter, W. J., & Ware, W. (1987). An analysis of the contexts of antisocial acts on prime-time television. Communication Research, 14(6), 664-686.

Renwick, L. (1993, January 3). The myth of South-Central; more a stereotype than a place, it is defined by ethnicity and negative media images rather than street boundaries. Los Angeles Times, pp. City Times, p. 17.

Rieff, D. (1991). Los Angeles: Capital of the third world. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Rikkinen, H. (1996). The living environment of 7-12-year-old pupils in Finland. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, 5(2), 107-116.

Robinson, J. L. (1981). The varied ' mental maps' our students have. Canadian Geographic, 101(1), 52-57.

Rolland-May, C. (1981). Analyse geographique d'un espace subjectif value: exemple du centre-ville de Metz. ( Geographical analysis of a valued subjective space: the case of the city of Metz). Mosella, 11(1-2), 91-125.

Roset, L. (1980). The student view from Regina. Western Geographical Series, 18, 35-52.

Rountree, P. W., & Kenneth, C. L. (1996). Perceived risk versus fear of crime: empirical evidence of conceputally distinct reactions in survey data. Social Forces, 74(4).

Rowntree, B. (1997). Les cartes mentales, outil geographique pour la connaissance urbaine: le cas d'Angers (Maine-et-Loire) Mental maps, a geographic tool for urban knowledge: the case of Angers (Maine-et-Loire). Norois, 176, 585-604.

Sabagh, G. (1993). Los Angeles, a world of new immigrants: An image of things to come? In L. Gracomo (Ed.), Migration policies in Europe and the United States (pp. 97-126). Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluver Academic Publishers.

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Sawicki, D. S. (1996). Neighborhood indicators: A review of literature and an assessment of conceptual and methodological issues. Journal of american Planning Association, 62(2), 165.

Shiva, V. (1989). Staying alive: Women, ecology and development. London: Zed Books.

Sinton, D. F. (1993). Reflections on 25 years in GIS. GIS World, Supplement(October), 1-8.

Smith, G. C., & Ford, R. G. (1985). Urban mental maps and housing estate preferences of council tenants ( Birmingham). Geoforum, 16(1), 25-36.

Soja, E. W. (1997). Post modern geographies: The assertion of space in critical studies. London: Verso.

Teo Siew, E. (1994). Mental maps and residential desirability: a Singapore study. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 15(2), 171-187.

Thill, J. C., & Sui, D. Z. (1993). Mental maps and fuzziness in space preferences. Professional Geographer, 45(3), 264-276.

Turner, E., & Allan, J. (1989). The most ethnically diverse urban places in the United States. Urban Geography, 10(6), 523-529.

Turner, E., & Allen, J. P. (1990). An atlas of population patterns in Metropolitan Los Angeles and Orange Counties 1980-1990. Northridge: California State University.

Turner, E., & Allen, J. P. (1990). An atlas of population patterns in Metropolitan Los Angeles and Orange Counties 1980-1990. Northridge: California State University.

Tversky, B. (1992). Distortions in cognitive maps. Geoforum, 23(2), 131-138.

Upton, G. J., & Fingleton, B. (1985). Spatial data analysis by example. New York: Wiley.

Wagner, P. L. (1967). Remarks on the geography of language. In F. E. Dohrs & L. M. Sommers (Eds.), Cultural Geography (pp. 219-229): Thomas Y. Crowell.

Waldinger, R., & Bozorgmehr, M. (Eds.). (1996). Ethnic Los Angeles. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Weaver, J., & Wakshlag, J. (1986). Perceived vulnerability to crime, criminal victimization experience, and television viewing. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 30(2), 141-158.

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Woessner, R., & Bailly, A. (1979). Images du centre-ville et methodes d'analyse factorielle: le cas de Mulhouse. ( Images of the town-centre and factoral analysis: the case of Mulhouse). Environment & Planning A, 11(9), 1039-1048.

Wong, K. Y. (1979). Maps in mind: an empirical study. Environment & Planning A, 11(11), 1289-1304.



Go to index page Mental Maps Explained Examples of Mental Mapping History of Mental Mapping Books, Report, Bibliographies related to mental mapping