Orientation Tasks with Multiple Views of Space: Strategies and Performance

Two experiments examine how participants vary in their approach to solving an orientation task. Verbal reports from untrained participants in a pilot study revealed that some participants used a strategy based on mental imagery, while others used verbal descriptions to do the task. The two experiments presented here involved training participants to perform the orientation task using one of these strategies. Participants' performance, measured by response time and eye movements, differed as a function of strategy. An ACT-R model of the task that uses the strategies provides a validation of the proposed mechanisms, producing a close fit to both the response time and eye movement data. The model's success is achieved, in part, by performing all aspects of the task, from processing the information on the screen to making responses. Overall, the results indicate that strategic variability is an important feature of human performance on such tasks.