The communication of profile perspective maps: a perceptual study

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This study examines the communication role of profile perspective maps. This three dimensional map has the role of displaying comparatively simple models of spatial information. The elements of design used to portray profiles are hypothesized to influence map perception. Two of these variables: profile type and rotation are selected for study.

Map data are represented in profile maps as a series of stepped or smooth profiles. Smooth profiles portray spatial trends of distributions better than stepped profiles. Bar scales accompany profiles to derive more accurate estimations of profile magnitude. Stepped profiles are more conducive for using bar scales to derive correct estimations of magnitude of the distribution.

Rotation is used to present a spatial distribution in a series of maps at different azimuths as three dimensional mapping entails some amount of hidden views. The probability of correct recognition of congruency between profile maps, and detection of azimuth direction depends on the azimuth used, and complexity of the distribution.

The number of cartography classes, work experience with maps, and class level did not have significant influence on perception of profiles. Academic major of the subjects was the only significant variable to influence the interpretation of profile maps.