Behavioral geography

Behavioral geography is an approach to human geography that examines human behavior using a disaggregate approach. Behavioral geographers focus on the cognitive processes underlying spatial reasoning, decision making, and behavior. In addition, behavioral geography is an ideology/approach in human geography that makes use of the methods and assumptions of behaviorism to determine the cognitive processes involved in an individual's perception of or response and reaction to their environment.

Behavioral geography is that branch of human science, which deals with the study of cognitive processes with its response to its environment, through behaviorism.

Issues in behavioral geography

Because of the name it is often assumed to have its roots in behaviorism. While some behavioral geographers clearly have roots in behaviorism[1][2] due to the emphasis on cognition, most can be seen as cognitively oriented. Indeed, it seems that behaviorism interest is more recent[3] and growing.[1] This is particularly true in the area of human landscaping.

Behavioral geography draws from early behaviorist works such as Tolman's concepts of "cognitive maps". More cognitively oriented, behavioral geographers focus on the cognitive processes underlying spatial reasoning, decision making, and behavior. More behaviorally oriented geographers are materialists and look at the role of basic learning processes and how they influence the landscape patterns or even group identity.[4]

The cognitive processes include environmental perception and cognition, wayfinding, the construction of cognitive maps, place attachment, the development of attitudes about space and place, decisions and behavior based on imperfect knowledge of one's environs, and numerous other topics.

The approach adopted in behavioral geography is closely related to that of psychology, but draws on research findings from a multitude of other disciplines including economics, sociology, anthropology, transportation planning, and many others.

See also


  1. 1 2 Norton, W. (2001). Initiating an affair human geography and behavior analysis. The Behavior Analyst Today, 2 (4), 283–290
  2. Norton, W. (2002) Explaining Landscape Change: Group Identity and Behavior. The Behavior Analyst Today, 3 (2), 155–160 BAO
  3. Glass, J.E. (2007). Behavior analytic grounding of sociological social constructionism. The Behavior Analyst Today, 8 (4), 426–433 BAO
  4. Norton, W. (1997). Human geography and behavior analysis: An application of behavior analysis to the evolution of human landscapes. The Psychological Record, 47, 439–460

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