The geographically informed person must mentally organize spatial information about people, places, and settings, and must be able to draw on and use this information in appropriate contexts. Knowing the locations and characteristics of people, places, and environments is a necessary precursor and the result of geographic thinking and learning.

An effective way to do this is to develop and use mind maps, which are an individual's internalized representation of aspects of the Earth's surface. The media is a great way of how people visualize the world around them. From local to international news, the articles we read and the images we see in the movies and in news reports absolutely affect the way we see different countries and people around the world.

What are the Mind Maps?

Mind maps are a mix of objective knowledge and subjective perceptions. It is precise knowledge about the location of geographic features, as well as impressions of places, rough estimates of size and location. It is a general sense of the connections between places. These maps are what a person knows about the locations and characteristics of places at a variety of scales. From the local (the design of a person's room) to the global (the distribution of the oceans and continents on Earth).

Who has Mind Maps?

They all have mind maps that they use to move. Imagine your neighborhood, for example. You probably have a clear map in your mind of where you live that allows you to navigate to the closest coffee shop, friend's house, workplace, and more without the help of technology or physical maps. Thus, you use mind maps to plan almost all activities and routes to travel.

The average person has large mind maps to tell them where towns, states, and countries are positioned and smaller maps to navigate areas like their kitchen. Every time you imagine how to get somewhere or what a place looks like, you use a mind map, often without even thinking about it. Behavioral geographers study this type of mapping to help them understand how humans move.

Geography of behavior

Behaviorism is a division of psychology that analyzes human and / or animal behavior. This science assumes that all behavior is a response to environmental stimuli and studies these connections. Similarly, behavioral geographers seek to understand how landscape, in particular, influences and is influenced by behavior. The way in which people build, change and interact with the real world through mind maps are all research topics for this growing field of study.

Mind Maps reflect our understanding of geography

We all have mind maps that we carry in our heads to make sense of the geographic world around us. These mental or cognitive maps help us give a kind of personal sense of the world, where we have been and places we have never seen before. Mind maps are a way to combine our objective knowledge of places, in addition to our subjective perceptions or opinions, of locations around the world.

Most people can roughly estimate how long it takes to move between cities or find approximate locations of unknown countries on a map because they have been exposed to information about that place elsewhere. However, they are complicated, since each person has a different set of perceptions about the same world in which we live. What a person associates with a city or country could be the exact opposite of the person right next to them.

How do we develop Mind Maps?

Through classes at school, interactions with a diverse population of people, in addition to our own travels and the prevalence of the media, most people have an internalized representation of the world in their minds. The study of mental maps and people's perceptions of the world is at the crossroads of cultural studies, psychology, sociology, and geography. Each of these fields can use the information gathered from mind mapping to understand how humans view the world around them and to process that information, internally and externally.

Benefits of Mind Maps

Mind mapping research benefits geographers in the following ways: Not only can researchers study how people interact and explain the world around them, but researchers can analyze how people feel about certain parts. of a city and correlate that with crime rates, ethnic populations, the environment and more.

Researchers can see the physical geography of a location and see what people in those regions think, and even delve into the human and behavioral aspects of mind maps to track fear, stress, and emotion regarding different places in all the world. Mind maps are not only useful for collecting spatial representations, but also function as an analytical tool of particular interest to the geographer.

One way to deal with the graphic results obtained is to compile the usable mind maps. To do this, mind maps can be integrated into a GIS (Geographic Information System) and digitized one by one. Then, a program calculates the superposition of the drawings, highlighting the occurrence of the areas described by the population as zones of potential risk. Its superposition allows the establishment of an average mental map of the representations shared by the professional group.

Data Collection and Analysis

There are several reasons why the cognitive mapping methodology is still in process. On the one hand, its interdisciplinary nature gives great freedom in methodological experimentation. From a negative perspective, this means that there is no single theoretical framework that can serve as a starting point for the evolution of the methodology.

On the other hand, due to frequent and at the same time significant changes in theoretical approaches (for example, the static vision is replaced by the constructionist vision) a methodology on previous results cannot be found, without encountering difficulties.

Furthermore, it should not be forgotten that the improved conditions guaranteed by computerized support were quite slow to impact map-like data processing, while in other research areas they caused rapid methodological erosion. Maps and spatial information are predominantly image-based data and the most complex images can only be managed as databases by the most advanced computers.

Data Collection Techniques for Making Mind Maps

The most characteristic data collection techniques of cognitive mapping are the following: Compilation of quantitative, qualitative data and free withdrawal data based on freely drawn maps Oriented memory map drawing, with the aim of standardizing data collection. data based on existing maps and images.

Conflicts caused by mind maps

It is possible, even common, that the mental maps of two individuals disagree with each other. This is because mind maps are not just perceptions of our own spaces, they are also perceptions of places you have never seen and areas that are mostly unfamiliar to you. Mind maps based on assumptions or conjectures can significantly affect human interaction.

Perceptions of where a country or region begins and ends, for example, can influence country-to-country negotiations. The ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel exemplifies this. These nations cannot agree on where the border should be between them because each side sees the boundaries in question differently. Territorial conflicts like this are difficult to resolve because participants must rely on their mind maps to make decisions, and no two mind maps are alike.

Means and mind mapping

Social media, news reports, and movies can vividly depict far away places for a person to create their own mind maps. Photographs are often used as the basis for mind maps, especially for famous places. This is what makes the horizons of popular cities like Manhattan easily recognizable even to people who have never visited. Unfortunately, representations of the media do not always give accurate representations of places and can lead to the formation of error-ridden mind maps. Looking at a country on a map with an inappropriate scale, for example, can make a nation appear larger or smaller than it really is.


The mind map is a graphic way of expressing a subjective reality of space, that is, the way an individual imagines a part of space. This tool thus facilitates the collection of spatial representations that individuals make of their environment. These spatial representations, or cognitive representations of space, are fed by mental or individual representations (referring to the real life experience, education, culture of the individual), but also by social representations, shared by a partner - professional group.

Controversies and difficulties related to the analysis of mind maps could suggest that this tool would eventually be abandoned by the discipline. However, this is not the case. In fact, mind maps have been a source of renewed interest in cultural, social, and humanistic geography for the past few decades. Mind maps are a great ally if your thesis is related to Behavioral Geography.

Ask us! Sure we can clarify all your doubts about it.

Bibliographic References

Downs, Roger M. és David Stea (1977). Maps in Minds. Reflections on Cognitive Mapping.New York: Harper & Row

Gold, John R. (1980). An Introduction to Behavioural Geography. Oxford: University Press

Gould, Peter R. és Rodney R. White (1974). Mental maps. Harmondsworth: Penguin, Pelican geography and environmental studies. Second, revised and expanded edition: 1986, London, New York: Routledge.


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Mind Maps and their Benefits


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