Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualization

Mental Maps

4608.1 - Mapping Emotions: Examples of Power Places

Tuesday, July 4
2:50 PM - 3:10 PM
Location: Maryland C

This paper explores emotions and the vague concept of a place and how they can be represented on a map. According to Goodchild (2011, p. 1), there is a “fundamental tension with the informal world of human discourse, and nowhere is this more apparent than over the vague concept of place.” He calls for additional research on place-based geographic information systems (GIS). Winter and Freksa (2012) stress the importance of “human cognitive notion of place” and that its understanding may “smooth communication between human users and computer-based geographic assistance systems.” The places chosen for this research are power places (Kraftorte in German language), which can be defined as places in which people recharge and feel at peace, places that evoke positive feelings. Where in the city are such places? How do people/citizens describe these places? Which emotions do they experience at these places, which words do they use to describe the emotions felt at these places, and how can these emotions be represented on a map?

Our research is based on previous work on emotional relationships with places (Manzo 2003) and place sensing/experiencing (Cross 2001). In our approach we focus on the experiments conducted with the help of a paper map and a questionnaire. It was conducted in Hamburg, Germany where we asked people to map their power places, to describe them with three words and chose three emotions that best describe the emotions felt at these places. As people usually have problems finding words for feelings, we provided a list of words describing feelings which we found in the book written by Rosenberg (Rosenberg 1999). Altogether we gathered over 200 power places, mental maps of these places drawn by the citizens, their descriptions of these places and the emotions felt by the people.

In our analysis we mapped all collected power places and inserted the data into a geographical information system (GIS). The most often used words describing emotions felt by the participants at the selected, favorite power places included relaxed (mentioned 48 times), happy (22), quiet (22), animated (20), peaceful (12), and liberated (12). The most often used combinations of words were quiet and relaxed for nine power places; and happy and relaxed for eight power places. We analyze these seventeen power places in detail with their physical characteristics, proximity to water bodies and the amount of green areas in the scenes. In order to do that we additionally performed field work of these selected power places, and took pictures and videos to document them. This paper summarizes the results related to the described empirical work with maps. We present the selected power places, describe our research methodology in detail, summarize the empirical results, discuss them, and overview our future research directions.

Cross, J.E. (2001). What is sense of Place? 12th Headwaters Conference, Western State College, November 2-4, 2001.
M.F. Goodchild (2011). Formalizing place in geographic information systems. In L.M. Burton, S.P. Kemp, M.-C. Leung, S.A. Matthews, and D.T. Takeuchi, editors, Communities, Neighborhoods, and Health: Expanding the Boundaries of Place, pp. 21–35. New York: Springer. [502]
Manzo, L.C. (2003). Beyond house and haven: toward a revisioning of emotional relationships with places, Journal of Environmental Psychology 23 (2003) 47-61.
Rosenberg, M.B. (1999). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compassion, PuddleDancer Press, Encinitas, CA.
Winter, S. and C. Freksa. (2012). Approaching the Notions of Place by Contrast. Journal of Spatial Information Science, 2012 (5): 31-50.

Alenka Poplin

Assistant Professor of Geoinformation Science and GeoDesign
Iowa State University

Dr. Alenka Poplin is an assistant professor of Geoinformation Science and GeoDesign at Iowa State University and a founder of the GeoGames Lab. Her research interests intersect geospatial modelling, interactive virtual geo-environments, game-based modelling and design, and interaction with online mapping systems. Her main application areas include civic engagement, public participation in urban planning, energy modelling, and smart cities. She holds a PhD in Geoinformation Science from Vienna University of Technology, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Clemson University, SC and a Master in Surveying and Spatial Planning from the Technical University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Prior to this position she was an associate professor at HafenCity University Hamburg, where she worked between 2007 and 2014. Alenka recently published in several journals including Journal of Urban Technology, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems (CEUS), The Cartographic Journal, Transactions in GIS, Cartography and Geographic Information Science. She is one of the co-editors of the forthcoming edited book The Virtual and The Real: Perspectives, Practices and Applications for The Built Environment, Routledge.


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Amy L. Griffin

Senior Lecturer
UNSW Canberra

Dr. Amy Griffin is a Senior Lecturer in Geography at UNSW Canberra. She is currently a co-chair of the ICA Commission on Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Visualization (CogVIS). Her research interests include investigating cognitive and perceptual processes involved in using maps, information visualizations and other forms of geospatial information.


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4608.1 - Mapping Emotions: Examples of Power Places

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