Case Studies on the Use of Persona in Geography


Persona, a term derived from Latin that means “mask,” has become an important concept in geography in recent years. Used as a method to understand the human side of geography, personas provide a deeper level of understanding for researchers, businesses, and policymakers. By creating fictional representations of real people, personas allow for a more nuanced analysis of geographic data and aid in decision-making processes. In this article, we will discuss some case studies on the use of persona in geography and how it has proven to be effective.

One of the most notable case studies on the use of persona in geography is the work done by the University of Leeds. They used personas to understand how different individuals experience and perceive their urban environment. By conducting interviews with residents, they developed personas that represented the various types of inhabitants in that area. These personas were then used to gain a deeper understanding of the daily lives and needs of the residents, including their travel patterns, access to resources, and preferences for their neighborhood. This information was valuable for local policymakers in creating more targeted and effective urban planning strategies.

Another case study was conducted by the University of Maine and focused on using personas to understand the impacts of climate change on coastal communities. The personas, created based on interviews with local residents, represented different demographic groups living in coastal areas. By utilizing these personas, researchers were able to identify potential vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies for each group. This information helped local governments and organizations to develop more tailored plans to mitigate the effects of climate change on these communities.

Persona has also been widely used in market research. A study by the University of Florida applied personas to understand consumer behavior in the context of location-based services. By creating personas that represented different groups of people, such as students, families, and professionals, they were able to identify distinct patterns in their use of location-based services. The results helped businesses to develop more targeted marketing strategies that catered to the specific needs and behaviors of each persona.

The use of personas in geography has also extended to disaster management. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created personas to better understand the needs and priorities of the affected population. These personas were used to identify the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and low-income communities, and develop plans to provide them with necessary aid. The success of these personas led to their continued use in subsequent disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Overall, these case studies highlight the effectiveness of using persona in geography. By creating fictional representations of real people, personas allow for a more personal and detailed understanding of geographic data. This deeper level of understanding can aid in decision-making processes and lead to more targeted and effective outcomes.

The use of persona in geography also has its limitations. It relies on the accuracy and validity of the data and information used to create the personas. Additionally, personas may not accurately represent all groups and individuals, leading to potential biases and oversimplification of complex human behavior. Therefore, it is crucial to carefully consider the methods and data used in creating personas and to continuously update and refine them.

In conclusion, persona has significantly expanded the capabilities of geography as a discipline. It offers a valuable tool for researchers, businesses, and policymakers to gain a deeper understanding of human behavior and its relation to geography. It has proven to be effective in various contexts, ranging from urban planning to market research to disaster management. However, it is important to use personas with caution and continuously refine them to ensure their accuracy and usefulness.