Have you ever been so confused by the complexity of a map, chart or diagram, that you didn’t know where to begin to make sense of it?

If so, you may be a victim of “map shock” or “visual shock”, according to Donald F. Dansereau, Ph.D., of Texas Christian University. Don is Professor of Psychology and Senior Research Scientist in the Institute of Behavioral Research at TCU, and teaches graduate statistics and cognitive psychology.

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of “map shock” ever since I first heard the term, so I thought I would find out more about it from Don.

It turns out that during his research on cognitive approaches for improving education, drug abuse prevention, and treatment, Don found that students often became “lost” upon first seeing a type of complex map. The results were a sense of “not knowing where to start or where to go next,” he said. “This makes processing less efficient and may even bring it to a halt.”

Hmmm – sounds like a familiar symptom of many PowerPoint slides I’ve seen, not to mention a good number of printed materials.

Read more about Don’s findings on “map shock” and “visual shock” in my recent interview with him here.

(via Beyond Bullets)

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