Cognitive geography

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Diagram showing elements of spatial contextual (or geographic) awareness.

Cognitive geography is an interdiscipline of cognitive science and geography, which studies maps in the mind. It is one of the studies into the foundations of geography. An important topic in cognitive geography is the cognitive map. Cognitive geography has been described as "the study of the maps in people’s minds."[1][2] It also investigates "how peoples may see their world."[3]

History and scope

Cognitive geography and behavioral geography draw from early behaviorist works such as Tolman's concepts of "cognitive maps". More cognitively oriented, these 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.[citation needed]

See also



  1. McClory R. "Listen. I can fly." Discovery YMCA 5:6-II. 1987.
  2. "Boulding K E. (1956). The image: knowledge in life and society. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. 175 p," in: CC/Number 28, 1988.
  3. Rolph, Karen Sue. (2006). Ecologically meaningful toponyms: linking a lexical domain to production ecology in the Peruvian Andes. Dept. of Anthropological Sciences, Stanford University, p.248.
  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

Further reading

  • Downs, Roger M., and David Stea. (1977). Maps in Minds: Reflections on Cognitive Mapping. HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Kitchin, Rob, and Scott Freundschuh, eds. (2000). Cognitive Mapping: Past, Present, and Future. Vol. 4. Psychology Press.
  • Mark, David M., et al. (1999). "Cognitive models of geographical space." International Journal of Geographical Information Science 13.8: 747-774.
  • Montello, Daniel R. (2009). "Cognitive geography." Pp. 160-166 in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography 2.
  • Montello, Daniel R., et al. (2003). "Testing the first law of cognitive geography on point-display spatializations." Pp. 316-331 in Spatial Information Theory. Foundations of Geographic Information Science. Berlin/ Heidelberg: Springer.
  • Portugali, Juval, ed. (1996). The Construction of Cognitive Maps. Vol. 32. Springer Science & Business Media.

External links