Navigating cognition biases in the search of sustainability
- 22 Downloads
We provide a conceptual review of the available knowledge on the role of human cognition biases for sustainability and sustainable behavior. Human cognition biases are defined as any deviation in decision making from the standard framework of rational choice. We distinguish between biases in individual decision making and biases in group decision making, and highlight the relevance of each for sustainable behavior. We find that while both categories may contribute to unsustainable behavior, human cognition biases in group settings might be central to understanding many of the current sustainability issues. Moreover, we argue that the effects of group-related biases may outweigh those on the individual level in driving unsustainable behavior, and that biases that have been discussed under various labels in the literature can be interpreted as manifestations of human cognition biases in group settings.
KeywordsEnvironmental decision making Human cognition biases Rational choice Sustainable behavior
The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from the State of Lower Saxony (Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur) and the Volkswagen Foundation in line with the research projects “Bridging the Great Divide” (Grant Number 11300011, JOE and HvW) and “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation: Institutions, People and Knowledge “(Grant Number A112269, DJA and HvW). The authors would also like to thank Felix John, Julius Rathgens, A.M. Tanvir Hussain, and Paul Upham for providing comments and critical feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript. In addition, JOE would like to thank Rolf Dobelli whose marvelous books on human cognition biases were a great inspiration for this manuscript.
- Abson, D.J., and M. Termansen. 2011. Valuing ecosystem services in terms of ecological risks and returns. Conservation Biology 25: 250–258.Google Scholar
- Aronson, E. 2010. Social psychology. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Attari, S.Z., D.H. Krantz, and E.U. Weber. 2014. Reasons for cooperation and defection in real-world social dilemmas. Judgment and Decision Making 9: 316–334.Google Scholar
- Baumgärtner, S., and J.O. Engler. 2015. An axiomatic approach to decision under Knightian uncertainty, Ed. Engler, J.O., Economic heterogeneity and environmental uncertainty, Ph.D. dissertation, from http://opus.uni-lueneburg.de/opus/volltexte/2015/14350/.
- Bazerman, M.H., and M.A. Neale. 1992. Negotiating rationally. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Bower, E. 2016. American deaths in terrorism vs. gun violence in one graph, Retrieved May 29, 2017, from http://edition.cnn.com/2016/10/03/us/terrorism-gun-violence.
- Brehm, S.S., S.M. Kassin, and S. Fein. 2002. Social psychology, 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Capozza, D., and R. Brown. 2000. Social identity processes: Trends in theory and research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Crawford, N.C. 2016. US budgetary costs for wars through 2016: $4.79 trillion and counting, watson institute international and public affairs, Brown University, Retrieved January 24, 2017, from http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/economic.
- Daly, H.E. 1977. Steady-state economics. San Fransisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.Google Scholar
- Dobelli, R. 2013. The art of thinking clearly. London: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
- Ehrenfeld, J.R. 2013. The roots of unsustainability. In The handbook of design for sustainability, ed. S. Walker and J. Giard. New York: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- Engler, J.O. 2015. Environmental uncertainty and economic heterogeneity. Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Ph.D. Dissertation, from http://opus.uni-lueneburg.de/opus/volltexte/2015/14350/.
- Federal Aviation Administration. 2009. Pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.Google Scholar
- Fernandez, R., and D. Rodrik. 1991. Resistance to reform: Status quo bias in the presence of individual-specific uncertainty. American Economic Review 81: 1146–1155.Google Scholar
- Fisher, R., and W.L. Ury. 1981. Getting to yes—Negotiating agreement without giving in. London: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
- Gawande, A. 2010. The checklist manifesto. London: Profile Books Ltd.Google Scholar
- Hanley, N., J. Shogren, and B. White. 2013. Environmental economics in theory and practice, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Hoffman, A., and M.H. Bazerman. 2007. Changing practices on sustainability: Understanding and overcoming the organizational and psychological barriers to action. In Organizations and the sustainability mosaic, ed. S. Sharma, M. Starik, and B. Husted. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
- Hogarth, R.M. 1980. Judgment and choice: The psychology of decision. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Kahneman, D. 2011. Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farar, Strous and Giroux.Google Scholar
- Kaul, I., I. Grunberg, and M.A. Stern (eds.). 1999. Global public goods: International cooperation in the twenty-first century. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kerr, N.L. 1992. Issue importance and group decision making, In: Worchel, S. In Group process and productivity, ed. W. Wood and J.A. Simpson, 68–88. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Levine, R.A., and D.T. Campbell. 1972. Ethnocentrism: theories of conflict, ethnic attitudes, and group behavior. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Meadows, D. 1997. Places to intervene in a system. Whole Earth 91: 78–84.Google Scholar
- Meadows, D. 1999. Leverage points: Places to intervene in a system. Hartland, VT: The Sustainability Institute.Google Scholar
- Meadows, D., D. Meadows, J. Randers, and W.W. Behrens III. 1972. The limits to growth. New York: Universe Books.Google Scholar
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human well-being: Synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
- Moriarty, D. 2014. Practical human factors for pilots. Cambridge, MA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Olson, J.M., C.P. Herman, and M.P. Zanna. 1986. Relative deprivation and social comparison. Milton Park: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Parfit, D. 1984. Reasons and persons, 2nd reprint with corrections 1987. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Pew Research Center. 2014. Political polarization in the American Public. Retrieved February 8, 2017, from http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/section-1-growing-ideological-consistency.
- Pigou, A.C. 1920. The economics of welfare. London, UK: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Pyle, R.E. 1993. The thunder tree: Lessons from an urban wildland. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Rawls, J. 1971. A theory of justice. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.Google Scholar
- Savage, L.J. 1954. The foundations of statistics. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Shu, L.M., and M.H. Bazerman. 2010. Cognitive barriers to environmental action: Problems and solutions. Harvard Business School working paper No. 11-046.Google Scholar
- Skinner, B.F. 1987. Upon further reflection. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Stoknes, P.E. 2015. What we think about when we try not to think about global warming. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.Google Scholar
- Tajfel, H., and J.C. Turner. 1986. The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In Psychology of intergroup relations, ed. S. Worchel and W.G. Austin. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.Google Scholar
- Taleb, N.N. 2001. Fooled by randomness: The hidden role of chance in life and in the markets. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Taleb, N.N. 2007. The black swan: The impact of the highly improbable. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
- Taylor, J., and J. MacDonald. 2002. The effects of asynchronous computer-mediated group interaction of group processes. Social Science Review 20: 260–274.Google Scholar
- Thaler, R., and C.R. Sunstein. 2009. Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness, 2nd ed. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- UNEP. 2014. Assessing global land use: Balancing consumption with sustainable supply. A report of the working group on land and soils of the international resource panel, from http://www.unep.org/resourcepanel-old/Portals/24102/PDFs//Full_Report-Assessing_Global_Land_UseEnglish_(PDF).pdf.
- von Neumann, J., and O. Morgenstern. 1944. Theory of games and economic behavior, 3rd ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- World Bank Group; ECOFYS. 2016. Carbon Pricing Watch 2016. Washington, DC: World Bank, from https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/24288.
- World Commission on Environment and Development. 1987. Our common future. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- WWF. 2016. Living planet report 2016. Risk and resilience in a new era. Gland: WWF International.Google Scholar