Northwestern: “All the Way from South Campus”

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Scientists find the longer you attend Northwestern, the lazier you get. Really. The north end of campus just seems so damn far away.

According to a piece in Science Daily:

A new Northwestern University study is the first to show that something may be happening cognitively that leads people to gradually become more biased, and at the same time more accurate, when it comes to their spatial memory as they become more familiar with a particular area.

In other words, as people better understand the relationship between buildings on a campus, for example, over time memory biases cause them to exaggerate the distance between the north and south ends of campus. They become more and more biased and see the boundaries of campus as being much farther apart.

Basically, the more time you spend in a place, the bigger that place becomes.

David Uttal, one of the authors of the study, which appears in , explained it like this: “I’ve had students tell me that they may be a few minutes late for class because they are coming all the way from south campus. And I’m thinking, ‘It’s only a six-minute walk.’”

The entire Northwestern campus is less than one mile long.

This sort of thing has implications for other campuses, but also potentially for other types of biases. The more interaction one has with one group of people in one place, the more likely one is to see that group as the whole world, or to perceive other groups, and other places, as far away and unknowable. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer