Essay on Human Perception and Geography

Published: 2021/11/12
Number of words: 930

Human Perception varies with knowledge and is closely related to the cultural and social considerations of the individual who holds a particular picture. It significantly influences peoples’ mental maps of their geographical areas. Every person has his or her own different perception of the environment but only a few people impact on the rest. However, not every person’s perception can be incorporated in making land use decisions making. This paper describes the various ways in which the perceptions of few individuals in the society affects the land use decision making processes of the entire society.

It would be almost impossible and inapplicable to incorporate every persons’ environmental perception in the land use decision-making process. A more reasonable approach would be to consider the perceptions of few selected individuals and major on them. The few individuals include professional foresters and planning agencies, and all other experts who are entrusted with the responsibility of land use and planning (Norton & Mercier, 2016). The landscape structures such as future locations of a forest harvest cut blocks substantially depend on the perceptions of these few individuals (Norton & Mercier, 2016). They build images of their phenomenal environment through experience, senses, culture, and beliefs. These aspects are then inherited and by the subsequent generations who use them in making land decisions such as where to locate a town.

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Most often, there arise situations where there are a landscape planning conflicts due to the differing land values, symbols, and meaning. Ending such conflicts require people to agree on certain similar perceptions of few individuals who can understand, interpret, and act on the environmental data. While each person holds their own unique perceptions and predilections of the landscape, geographers are more specific and practical in their environmental immediate interests (Norton & Mercier, 2016). Their perceptions are closely related to the everyday world and directed to environmental patterns.

Spatial geography influences human behavior. Mental maps are representations of spatial knowledge in the human brain and represent the world as it appears to the person (Schenk, 2013). Some structures such as urban centers are established through perceptions of few individuals. Immediately these structures are set up, some people migrate to these areas and as a result, the urban centers develop more (Norton & Mercier, 2016). Before making a decision on land use, individuals consider a group of factors which include motivation, emotions, and experience. All these factors are linked with previous generations’ landscape perceptions in a way.

Many pieces of information can be obtained from the real world. For individuals to make any sense of this date, it needs to be filtered first (Norton & Mercier, 2016). However, not every individual can synthesize such information and make a good land use definition. Such a situation require the assistance of other people with the relevant experience to make sense out of it. Through physiological processes, long-term experience, and their own perceptions, they interpret the information and convert it into an image that represents the real world which forms the basis of land use decision making. The decisions later initiate some forms of behavior among the people and affect the real world. An example is the planning of an urban center. From few individuals perceptions, a town is established and its map drawn. When the map is erroneously drawn, people tend to get lost in the city but locating places becomes easy with a well-defined map (Norton & Mercier, 2016).

In Canada and United States, for instance, landscape assessment is based on the values of wilderness areas and their uses for creation purposes (Norton & Mercier, 2016). Though this decision was made from the perception of specific individuals, the rules apply to all citizens. As a result, these designated areas lands cannot be used for any other purpose apart from these two. Decisions and perceptions like these compel the entire human population in the specified areas to adjust their behaviors in the natural environment (Norton & Mercier, 2016).

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In addition, some people hold the perception that human beings need to be protected from harmful fluctuations of the natural environment such as floods, storms, and earthquakes. Consequently, societies and individuals construct protective barriers between themselves and such fluctuations. Erecting these barriers arises as a mere perception from few concerned individuals but in the long last, they affect every member in the concerned areas. Before making any decision on land use, members have to consider restricted or areas that have been declared unsafe. When peoples’ perceptions of environmental hazards are in conflict, their reactions differ. They end up relying on previous experiences and perceptions of other persons in taking the necessary precautions.

Mental mapping includes the human mental abilities that enable individuals to observe the spatial environment and collect, organize and store information about it (Schenk, 2013). The manner in which human beings perceives their environment forms the basis of human-environment relationships and behavior. Individuals, social groups, and communities hold varying perceptions of their environments but only a few individuals have a significant influence on the land use decision-making process. The individuals include professional foresters and planning agencies. Their perceptions are guided by long-term experiences and observations and this makes their views more reliable. Concepts of space are culturally transferred and collectively shared among the society members.


Norton, W., & Mercier, M. (2016) Human geography (9th Ed.). Don Mills, ON Oxford University Press.

Schenk, F. (2013). Mental Maps: The cognitive mapping of the continent as an object of research of European history — EGO.

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