I am reading Norman's book, The design of everyday things where I came upto the natural mapping part. There, he defined 3 kinds of natural mapping.

1- Spatial
2- Cultural
3- Perceptual

Now, In spatial, he says, a control can be used to move the object up and down. And In perceptual, he gives example of car seat controls to move the car seat. Now I am confused what is the actual difference between these two? Isn't moving the object up and down or moving the seat with controls are same. I know, I am missing something, so if anyone know, please clear me about this problem and help me to understand it. Thank you.

1 Answer 1


Spatial controls move objects. Perceptual controls move the controller.

For example, a jet pilot uses perceptual controls to move himself and the plane. However, a drone pilot uses spatial controls to move only the drone: he remains stationary.

Said another way, think of it like the rectangle-square relation: all perceptual controls are also spatial, but not all spatial controls are perceptual. If a control modifies the world perception of the controller, it is perceptual (as well as spatial).

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    This makes sense to me. So you mean, all perceptual mapping are spatial as well, right? in a sense that object is moving, but when a person who is controlling that object also moves or affected by the action, then it is perceptual. Did i understand it right? thank you for your answer. Nov 25, 2016 at 17:00
  • @WaqarAhmed Yes, you understand correctly!
    – bishop
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:02
  • well, I always understood something completely different to this answer, guess I'll need to re-check the book again :D
    – Devin
    Nov 25, 2016 at 18:23
  • @Devin .. then please reconfirm it to me as well..i have an exam on this tuesday...:p Nov 25, 2016 at 18:37
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    @Devin The 2013 edition doesn't even include these distinctions. My answer is based on the 1988 edition, which to a degree conflated feedback and placement. In the modern text, both my examples would be spatial and the "perception" part would be descrived in terms of feedback and affordance.
    – bishop
    Nov 25, 2016 at 19:57

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