In this study, we examine whether updating an interactive hazard map using recommendations from the literature improves user map comprehension. Analyses of experimental data collected from 75 university students revealed that map comprehension scores were not significantly better for those who viewed a “best practices” map compared to those who viewed an existing version. This may be because the existing map was itself better than most other interactive maps. Additionally, we found map comprehension levels to have significant positive relationships with objective tests, but not self-reported measures of spatial ability. Moreover, self-reported spatial ability had statistically significant, but only moderately strong, correlations with objective tests. These results indicate that spatial ability should be measured objectively rather than through self-reported methods in research on map comprehension. Further research is needed to examine the cognitive processes involved in hazard map comprehension, especially using a broader range of map characteristics and population segments with more diverse cognitive abilities.
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MacPherson-Krutsky, Carson C.; Brand, Brittany D.; and Lindell, Michael K. (2020). "Does Updating Natural Hazard Maps to Reflect Best Practices Increase Viewer Comprehension of Risk?". International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 46, 101487-1 - 101487-11. https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101487