Despite its universality, this approach has limitations. All the five elements of Lynch's mental image (paths, nodes, landmarks, edges and districts) refer to physical elements or perceptible objects, suggesting that the form is what defines the mental image. This view does not take into account the influence of functional or symbolic meaning and the way people actively interact with environment. According to Yadav, what Lynch studied was an “implicitly passive or responsive mode of perception” (1987, p. 6) which separated physical form from meaning.
The role of mental images beyond navigation was also not clear in Lynch’s work. How are mental images connected to human behaviour? Why is a strong mental image better than a weak one? Lynch argued that mental images are as important for well-being as they are for way-finding, but establishing this connection was not the aim of his work:
The study may have analysed the nature of the way finding image accurately enough. But it only assumed its importance and never demonstrated it. What do people care if they have a vivid image of their locality? (Lynch, 1984, p. 154).