Version of Record online: 19 AUG 2010
Copyright © 2010 Cognitive Science Society, Inc.
Topics in Cognitive Science
Volume 3, Issue 3, pages 499–535, July 2011
How to Cite
Tversky, B. (2011), Visualizing Thought. Topics in Cognitive Science, 3: 499–535. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2010.01113.x
- Issue online: 11 JUL 2011
- Version of Record online: 19 AUG 2010
- Received 16 June 2009; received in revised from 12 May 2010; accepted 12 May 2010
- Visual communication;
- Spatial cognition;
Depictive expressions of thought predate written language by thousands of years. They have evolved in communities through a kind of informal user testing that has refined them. Analyzing common visual communications reveals consistencies that illuminate how people think as well as guide design; the process can be brought into the laboratory and accelerated. Like language, visual communications abstract and schematize; unlike language, they use properties of the page (e.g., proximity and place: center, horizontal/up–down, vertical/left–right) and the marks on it (e.g., dots, lines, arrows, boxes, blobs, likenesses, symbols) to convey meanings. The visual expressions of these meanings (e.g., individual, category, order, relation, correspondence, continuum, hierarchy) have analogs in language, gesture, and especially in the patterns that are created when people design the world around them, arranging things into piles and rows and hierarchies and arrays, spatial-abstraction-action interconnections termed spractions. The designed world is a diagram.