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Mental maps of global regions: identifying and characterizing “hard” and “soft” regions

Abstract : This article presents the quantitative synthesis of mental maps that identify different types of world regions. It is the result of a large-scale survey conducted in 18 countries, based on a sketch map approach. The number, shape, and extension of these vernacular world regions vary according to countries, cultures, and the personal styles of respondents who drew the maps. However, when we collectively analyze the regions identified by respondents, we observe that the figures of global regions are more or less recurrent. While the most commonly used division of the world is into “continents”, we can identify “hard” and “soft” regions of the world. Whereas a “hard” region, such as Africa, can be recognized relatively unambiguously as a continent, “soft” regions may include numerous regional distinctions such as East Asia, Russia, South East Asia, and the Middle East. Our methodology involves defining a set of characteristics that discriminate between “hard” and “soft” regions (measuring spatial uncertainty and the relative vagueness of limits and fringes), then accounting for the correlation of these areas on the world map.
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Contributor : Clarisse Didelon-Loiseau <>
Submitted on : Sunday, January 27, 2019 - 4:42:34 PM
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Clarisse Didelon-Loiseau, Sophie de Ruffray, Nicolas Lambert. Mental maps of global regions: identifying and characterizing “hard” and “soft” regions. Journal of Cultural Geography, Alyson L. Greiner, 2018, 35 (2), pp.210-229. ⟨10.1080/08873631.2018.1426950⟩. ⟨halshs-01995757⟩



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