Mental representations of hypermedia: An evaluation of the spatial assumption

J. Shawn Farris, Keith S. Jones, Peter D. Elgin

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study attempts to clarify some ambiguities in the literature that deal with users' mental representations of hypermedia. It is frequently assumed that users form a spatial representation (cognitive map) of the website while navigating hypermedia. However, it is not clear how cognitive maps can be acquired from hypermedia, which is inherently non-spatial. Unfortunately, there has been little research addressing this assumption. Toward that end, the current study examined the cognitive maps acquired while using hypermedia by systematically varying the depth of a website and holding the information constant. Analyses of 40 participants' drawings of the hypermedia's structure indicate that drawings largely reflected a conceptual (i.e., semantic) structure, and not a connection-structure. In light of the current research, it is suggested that we 1) reevaluate the conjecture that hypermedia is mentally represented in ways similar to the physical world and 2) place more emphasis on other aspects of hypermedia from which users form mental representations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1160
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
StatePublished - 2001
EventProceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 45th Annual Meeting - Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN, United States
Duration: Oct 8 2001Oct 12 2001


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