South-up map orientation

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A south-up map centered on the Prime Meridian
The Blue Marble photograph in its original orientation

South-up map orientation is the orientation of a map with south up, or at the top of the map, amounting to a 180-degree rotation of the map from the standard convention of north-up. Maps in this orientation are sometimes called upside down maps or reversed maps.

Other maps with non-standard orientation include T and O maps, polar maps, and Dymaxion maps.

Psychological significance

Map of Europe, showing south at the top

Research suggests that north-south positions on maps have psychological consequences. In general, north is associated with richer people, more expensive real estate, and higher altitude, while south is associated with poorer people, cheaper prices, and lower altitude (the "north-south bias"). When participants were presented with south-up oriented maps, this north-south bias disappeared. [1] [2]

Researchers posit the observed association between map-position and valence (north=good; south=bad) is caused by (i) the convention of consistently placing north at the top of maps, and (ii) a much more general association between vertical position and valence (up=good, down=bad), which has been documented in numerous contexts (e.g., power/status, profits/prices, affect/emotion, and even the divine). [3] [4] [5]

In popular culture

South-up maps are commonly available as novelties or sociopolitical statements in southern hemisphere locales, particularly Australia.[6]

See also


  1. Meier, Brian P.; Moller, Arlen C.; Chen, Julie J.; Riemer-Peltz, Miles (2011). "Spatial Metaphor and Real Estate: North-South Location Biases Housing Preference". Social Psychological and Personality Science. 2 (5): 547. doi:10.1177/1948550611401042. 
  2. Nelson, L.D.; Simmonds, J.P. (2009). "On southbound ease and northbound fees: Literal consequences of the metaphoric link between vertical space and cardinal direction.". Journal of Marketing Research. 46: 715–726. 
  3. Meier, Brian P.; Robinson, Michael D. (2004). "Why the sunny side is up associations between affect and vertical position". Psychological science. 15 (4): 243–247. doi:10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00659.x. 
  4. Montoro, Pedro R.; Contreras, María José; Elosúa, María Rosa; Marmolejo-Ramos, Fernando (2015). "Cross-modal metaphorical mapping of spoken emotion words onto vertical space". Frontiers in Psychology. 6: 1205. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01205. 
  5. Kacinik, Natalie A. (2014). "Sticking your neck out and burying the hatchet: what idioms reveal about embodied simulation". Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 8: 689. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00689. 
  6. Monmonier, Mark (2004). Rhumb Lines and Map Wars: A Social History of the Mercator Projection p. 169. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

External links