Navigation relies on the integration of incoming sensory information with a stable schema that can be applied to map the current environment. This integration results in a dynamic map of the animal’s position based on coordinate systems which have origins centered either on the navigator themselves (egocentric) or on some distal, world-centered cue (allocentric). The current knowledge of spatial maps and spatial coordinate systems is based to a large extent on neural recording from animals that move freely in simple open arenas (open fields). In open-field recordings from the hippocampus, a phylogenetically old part of cortex of key importance for spatial navigation and spatial memory, neurons have typically been understood to represent information within an allocentric frame of reference, whereas the investigation of spatial information in egocentric reference frames in this brain structure has received little attention. Here, in agreement with previous work, we find indications for modulation of place cell activity by egocentric bearing using previously defined methods for detection in real data from open field environments. However, our findings also raise the possibility that activity in hippocampal neurons is often falsely attributed to egocentric orientation as a result of covariates correlated with this variable. By developing a simulation framework composed of functional cell types with various kinds of spatial tuning and by applying large populations of these simulated neurons to egocentric classification methods, we find higher than expected false positive rates among simulated neurons not tuned to egocentric orientation. False positive rates vary across cell types, behavioral sessions, noise levels, and firing field sizes, pointing to factors that might potentially account for misattribution to egocentric tuning in experimental studies. We propose here that with simple improvements in experimental design and analysis, such issues can be mediated. Further, we suggest that such studies of potential confounding factors should be investigated prior to data collection in future cases.