Activity-based Approach to Human Spatial Behavior Research

  • 1. Department of Urban and Economic Geography, Peking University, Beijing, 100871;
    2. School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, UK

Received date: 2007-10-16

  Revised date: 2008-04-13

  Online published: 2008-09-20


Since the 1960s, along with the transition of developmental focus from economic issues to social issues, geographers realized that human spatial behavior was not as simple as they thought before.The knowledge of aggregate patterns of human spatial behavior helped little to solve new problems, and research addressing micro-level of individual behavior then became one of the main directions of geography.Action space is the kernel subject of behavior geography.Related research puts individual in the context of urban environment and focuses on how they image and interact with the physical environment.As one important part of action space, activity spaces refer to the subset of all locations within which an individual has direct contact as a result of his or her day-to-day activities.They represent a process through which residents gain information about and attach meaning to our environment.What’s more, researches on activity spaces integrated the four key problems of action space:the colligation of time and space, the behavioral mechanism of choice and constraints, the link between activity and travel, and the impacts of socio-economic structure.As a result, such perspective has developed into an activity approach to individual and household travel-activity behavior as well as urban space analysis.Therein, activity patterns are defined by time budget, its location and related travel, and all residents’ activity spaces constitute urban activity system.Both of the two are the main research objects.As to methodology, three important items are mentioned.Time-space budget and time-geography are the most important analysis tools.Besides, recently developed stated preference method has risen to help go deep into behavior studies.In China, although such research has showed up to expanding the field, it is still far from well-developed both on theory and methodology.This paper thus tries to propose a research framework of action space based on daily activity analysis, which is more comprehensive than those of before.Theories of multi-disciplines are emphasized as the base of research, which are including geography, society, psychology, urban planning and urban transportation, etc.Meanwhile, activity dairy survey, revealed preference and stated preference survey should be combined to acquire empirical data source, census data related with both socio-economic and spatial information will also be used to support the whole studies.In such framework, travel-activity patterns will be derived under specific time-space environment.The interaction mechanism between behavior and space will be then discussed considering both individual choice and constraints.Using new computation technique such as GIS, etc., action space simulation is finally realized to help the establishment of relative policies.

Cite this article

CHAI Yan-Wei, SHEN Jie . Activity-based Approach to Human Spatial Behavior Research[J]. SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA, 2008 , 28(5) : 594 -600 . DOI: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2008.05.594


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