PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (1): 1-15.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.01.001

• Special Column: Theories and Methods of Behavioral Geography •     Next Articles

Disciplinary position and research frontiers of behavioral geography

TA Na1,2(), CHAI Yanwei3,*()   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Geographic Information Science (Ministry of Education), East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    2. School of Geographic Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
    3. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2021-09-03 Revised:2021-11-27 Online:2022-01-28 Published:2022-03-28
  • Contact: CHAI Yanwei;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41971200);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071203)


Beginning from the behavioral revolution, behavioral geography has gradually moved towards a diversified development direction, by continuously expanding its theoretical framework and practical extension, as well as reflecting on its own meaning. It is an important part of human geography. In the 21st century, geographic mobility has increasingly become a core factor in shaping human-environment relationships. Mobility not only constitutes a new mode of operation of the world through flows and networks, but also fundamentally reshapes the relationship between geographic space and social space. As an important part of geographic mobility, space-time behavior demonstrates the diversity and dailyness of mobility, which is key to understanding urban and rural space and social development. This brings new opportunities for the development of behavioral geography, which promotes related research to micro-interpretation, simulation, and evaluation, and puts the actual problems of people and society at the core of the research. To understand the recent development and future direction of behavioral geography, this article examined the disciplinary position of behavioral geography, reviewed the latest research results of behavioral geography in the past 10 years, discussed the challenges faced by the development of behavioral geography, and explored its future development trends. Behavioral Geography is a branch of human geography describing and explaining the interactions between the geographical environment and human behavior. The core is to explore how people's spatial behaviors are generated in the geographical environment and how people's behaviors react to space. Behavioral geography has five characteristics, including microscopic perspective, behavioral process, subjective and objective combination, integration of time and space, and interdisciplinary. The development of behavioral geography has experienced rise, integration, and expansion, and has gradually developed from the initial narrow positivist framework to more diversified directions. In the recent years, behavioral geography has presented three frontier development directions, including understanding dynamic human-environment relationship, individual quality of life, and sustainable social development. First, behavioral geography provides a new perspective to understand the interaction between geographic space and individual behavior from the perspective of micro-processes. It includes three new directions including analyzing dynamic geographic backgrounds, emphasizing the combination of subjective and objective, and deepening the understanding of cognitive space. Second, behavioral geography focuses on the quality of life at the individual level, and understands the quality of life and its changes from the perspective of temporal and spatial behavior. The main topics include lifestyle, social relations, subjective well-being, and physical and mental health. Third, behavioral geography understands urban issues and improves urban governance from the perspective of micro-processes, and bridges the gap between individual research at the micro-scale and urban spatial research at the macro-scale. It brings a behavioral perspective on social equity, smart cities, low-carbon cities, and planning applications. Behavioral geography faces challenges in methodology, research methods, and interdisciplinary aspects. It needs to think about aggregation and scale issues, develop theory- and problem-oriented research, find new interdisciplinary development points, consolidate the core of geography, expand its boundary, and optimize its theoretical system.

Key words: behavioral geography, behavioral revolution, social sustainability, human-environment relationship