BEACON TRANSCRIPT – When someone asks you for directions and although it’s simple to you, they look like they don’t get it don’t worry because scientists have come up with a special formula to give the best directions.
According to a study conducted by a team from the University of Aberdeen, the order of the words could be crucial for a better understanding of directions.
The participants in the study where asked to find Wally, a character from a children’s book “Where’s Wally” and to give instruction on how to locate him. Mostly they used landmarks like buildings to describe where the character can be found. They usually started with the biggest landmarks or the ones who were the most visible while the visually weak ones were only mentioned towards the end. If Wally was clearly visible, then the subjects started by mentioning him.
Focusing on the order of the words, they found out that the people who were given directions starting with the most visually strong landmarks, were able to find Wally faster. On the other hand, the ones who received directions the other way around had more trouble finding the character.
When people are given directions they imagine what you’re describing to them, so they create an imaginary picture in which they mostly make mental notes of landmarks. In this way, their object of interest can become easier to find.
However, you should be careful of how visible the actual target is. If the place they want to reach happens to be more visible than the surrounding landmarks, start with it and then move to the objects near it.
But the goal of this study was not necessarily to teach us how to become better at giving directions, although the finding could indeed be helpful. The goal of the study was to give researchers more insight on how people perceive their surroundings and landmarks in order to be able to create a direction-giving computer.
This type of computer should be able to easily detect the targets in the scene as well as visually strong landmarks, whether they are big or simply eye-catching. The computer will assist people in finding their way to the place they are looking for. On the other hand, it will take all the fun from being stopped on the street to give directions.
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