Hypermedia navigation: Differences between spatial cognitive styles

Laura Lugli, Matteo Ragni, Laura Piccardi, Raffaella Nori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recently, many studies have investigated the role of individual and cognitive differences during Web navigation and Web searching. Despite this interest, no works have considered the role may assume individual differences in real-environment navigation during Web navigation. The aim of this work is to investigate the effect of different spatial cognitive styles: Landmark style (LS), Route style (RS) and Survey style (SS), on Web searching behaviour. In real-environment navigation, having a specific style determines the type of information individuals selected to navigate and orient themselves. We hypothesize that LS individuals are less proficient during Web exploration due to their analytical analysis of the environmental features. Vice versa SS individuals will show high performance on Web exploration for their holistic analysis of the World. We asked 30 College Students (10 LS, 10 RS, 10 SS) to solve three Web information tasks. The spatial cognitive style of participants was assessed through the Spatial Cognitive Style Test, and they were also asked to fill in a questionnaire about their internet and computer use. An ad hoc key-logger program for browsers was used to collect Web behaviour measures. In particular, the measures considered were: search engine tools used (e.g. back button), pages visited and revisited, time spent on information searching, and mouse cursor movements. The results showed significant differences between the spatial cognitive styles: LS seems to use a trial and error strategy in order to obtain the relevant information. Differences also emerged in the distribution of mouse cursor movements during Web navigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-200
Number of pages10
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Environmental navigation
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Spatial cognitive style
  • Web navigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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