Survival and Locating Places

The ability to identify locations has been connected in evolutionary psychology to our ancestors' need to navigate and live in their environments. The capacity to locate food and water supplies, shelter, and other resources was critical to early humans' survival. Those who could manage their surroundings and locate resources efficiently were more likely to live and pass on their DNA to future generations. According to research, people have an inherent ability to travel and identify locations, which is believed to be a result of evolution.

Survival and Locating Places

Locating places during survival refers to the ability to navigate and find resources in a given environment. This skill is essential for survival in many different contexts, such as finding food and water sources, identifying shelter, and avoiding dangers. In a survival situation, locating places may involve using various techniques and skills, such as orienteering, map reading, and navigating using natural landmarks.

For example, a person may use the position of the sun or stars to determine their direction of travel, or they may use a map and compass to navigate through unfamiliar terrain. Understanding the local environment and the resources accessible within it may also be required when locating locations for survival. For example, a person trapped in the desert may require the ability to find water sources, such as oases or subterranean streams, to live.

According to studies, humans have an innate sense of direction that enables them to retain a sense of orientation even when disoriented. This ability is more developed in people who traverse their environments, such as hunters and gatherers. Furthermore, studies have shown that the brain can build mental maps of locations that can be used to traverse environments and locate resources. This ability to mentally represent places results from evolution, enabling people to recall and navigate critical resources' locations more effectively.

Cognitive Processes Involved in Spatial Behaviour: A Key to Locate Places

Spatial behaviour involves various cognitive processes, including perception, attention, memory, and decision-making. Perception allows individuals to interpret sensory information about their environment, such as the shape and location of objects. A hiker may use perception to interpret the shape and location of mountains, rivers, or trees to identify their location and find their way. Attention helps individuals focus on relevant information and ignore distractions, such as a driver may focus on road signs and landmarks while driving to navigate an unfamiliar area.

Memory allows individuals to create mental maps and remember essential landmarks, as a person may use memory to remember the location of their home or the way to the exit route. At the same time, decision-making enables individuals to plan routes and choose which direction to go. A climber may use decision-making to choose the best path to reach a mountain summit. These cognitive processes are essential for spatial behaviour and navigation, allowing individuals to move through their environment and find resources, shelter, and safety.

Landscape Preferences in Survival

Landscape preferences in survival have evolved as humans have adapted to different environments and landscapes. Our ancestors' survival and success depended on locating and accessing resources, avoiding hazards, and maintaining social connections. As a result, certain landscape features were likely preferred or avoided for their perceived benefits or risks.

Open grasslands, for example, may have been favoured by early human hunter-gatherers because they offered unobstructed sightlines and chances for hunting and collecting sustenance. On the other hand, forested regions may have been perceived as more dangerous due to predators or other dangers.

Our environmental choices today are affected by several factors, including societal and personal values, artistic preferences, and practical concerns such as ease and efficiency. According to some studies, our tastes for specific environmental characteristics may be anchored in our evolutionary past and our predecessors' need to find and access resources, avoid dangers, and maintain social ties. Animals also have landscape survival preferences shaped by evolutionary factors such as habitat availability, resource availability, and predator avoidance. Animal species have different landscape preferences depending on their ecological niche and the specific environmental factors necessary for survival.

Like herbivores, animals that rely on vegetation for food and shelter may prefer landscapes with a high vegetation density. In contrast, predators may prefer open areas with clear sightlines for hunting. Understanding the genetic origins of these inclinations may provide insights into how we can build our surroundings to support our health, happiness, and success.

Two Strategies for Navigation


Orientation refers to the ability to determine one's position and direction relative to the surrounding environment. This can be achieved using a variety of internal cues, such as the sun, stars, and magnetic fields, and sensory information, such as sound, scent, and temperature. Animals and humans that use orientation for navigation can move in a specific direction without relying on external landmarks.

In general, orientation relies on an individual's ability to detect and use environmental cues to determine their position and direction. It is a critical skill for navigation in many different contexts, including wilderness survival, search and rescue operations, and everyday life.


Landmark navigation, on the other hand, involves using external cues, such as visual features and distinct landmarks, to navigate through an environment. This strategy relies on an individual's ability to recognize and remember specific features of the environment, such as buildings, trees, and other landmarks. Animals and humans that use landmark navigation can navigate to specific locations by following a series of landmarks or visual cues.

In general, landmark navigation requires an individual to identify and remember specific visual features of an environment. It is a critical skill for navigation in many different contexts, including urban environments, search and rescue operations, and everyday life. Depending on the surroundings and the individual's objectives, orientation and landmark navigation can be used alone or in parallel. Animals living in open areas, for example, may depend more on orientation, whereas animals living in complicated surroundings with many visual clues may rely more on landmark navigation.

Human navigation methods can be affected by several variables, including individual variations in cognitive skills and navigation task experience. Some people may be better at using direction cues than others at using location cues. Overall, the capacity to use orientation and landmark techniques can help navigate various settings and circumstances.


Locating places is a crucial survival skill that has evolved to reflect changing needs and priorities. Cognitive processes such as perception, attention, memory, and decision-making play a crucial role in spatial behaviour, which is influenced by both domain-general and domain-specific mechanisms.

Navigation, using orientation and landmark-based strategies, is also a critical skill for survival, enabling individuals to move through their environment and find resources, shelter, and safety.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


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