Map projections are required to represent the globe on a flat surface, which always results in distorted representations of the globe. Accordingly, the world maps we observe in daily life contexts, such as on news sites, in news bulletins, on social media, in educational textbooks or atlases, are distorted images of the world. The question raises if regular contact with those representations of the world deforms people’s global-scale cognitive map. To analyze people’s global-scale cognitive map and if it is influenced by map projections, a short playful test was developed that allowed participants to estimate the real land area of certain regions, countries, and continents. More than 130,000 people worldwide participated. This worldwide dataset was used to perform statistical analyses in order to obtain information on the extent that map projections influence the accuracy of people’s global-scale cognitive map. The results indicate that the accuracy differs with the map projection but not to the extent that one’s global-scale cognitive map is a reflection of a particular map projection.
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