Human behavior is an underlying cause for many of the ecological crises faced in the 21st century, and there is no escaping from the fact that widespread behavior change is necessary for socio-ecological systems to take a sustainable turn. Whilst making people and communities behave sustainably is a fundamental objective for environmental policy, behavior change interventions and policies are often implemented from a very limited non-systemic perspective. Environmental policy-makers and psychologists alike often reduce cognition ‘to the brain,’ focusing only to a minor extent on how everyday environments systemically afford pro-environmental behavior. Symptomatic of this are the widely prevalent attitude–action, value–action or knowledge–action gaps, understood in this paper as the gulfs lying between sustainable thinking and behavior due to lack of affordances. I suggest that by adopting a theory of affordances as a guiding heuristic, environmental policy-makers are better equipped to promote policies that translate sustainable thinking into sustainable behavior, often self-reinforcingly, and have better conceptual tools to nudge our socio–ecological system toward a sustainable turn. Affordance theory, which studies the relations between abilities to perceive and act and environmental features, is shown to provide a systemic framework for analyzing environmental policies and the ecology of human behavior. This facilitates the location and activation of leverage points for systemic policy interventions, which can help socio–ecological systems to learn to adapt to more sustainable habits. Affordance theory is presented to be applicable and pertinent to technically all nested levels of socio–ecological systems from the studies of sustainable objects and households to sustainable urban environments, making it an immensely versatile conceptual policy tool. Finally, affordance theory is also discussed from a participatory perspective. Increasing the fit between local thinking and external behavior possibilities entails a deep understanding of tacit and explicit attitudes, values, knowledge as well as physical and social environments, best gained via inclusive and polycentric policy approaches.
Graphical AbstractHighlights d An ABM is used to study the cultural evolution of sustainable behaviors d Behaviors emerge as a function of affordances, social learning, and habits d The affordances in an environment have a major effect on behavior adoption d The ABM is validated against cycling behaviors in Copenhagen Authors Roope Oskari Kaaronen, Nikita Strelkovskii Correspondence email@example.com In Brief Kaaronen and Strelkovskii have designed an agent-based model to study the cultural evolution of sustainable behaviors. Behaviors emerge as a product of personal, environmental, and social factors. Particularly the structure of the environment has an effect on the adoption of pro-environmental behaviors. Even linear changes in pro-environmental affordances (action opportunities) can trigger non-linear collective behavior change. The model is validated against cycling behaviors in Copenhagen. This model gives further justification for policies and urban design that make proenvironmental behavior psychologically salient, accessible, and easy.
Violence in the Rakhine State of Myanmar has led to a humanitarian crisis as Rohingya people flee across the border to Bangladesh (1). With the rapid influx of nearly 700,000 arrivals between August 2017 and the beginning of 2018, the Bangladeshi city of Cox's Bazar is now under severe strain from a Rohingya population of almost 1 million, one of the largest concentrations of refugees in the world (2). The crisis seized global attention, and the international response was rapidly escalated to a Level 3 emergency (3). In addition to the humanitarian challenges, the mass influx of Rohingya refugees has resulted in environmental degradation both within the refugee camps and in the surrounding areas (2). The expansion of existing campsites has led to more than 2000 ha of forest loss in the Cox's Bazar region (4). Expansion of the old Kutupalong camp blocked the only corridor used by the globally endangered Asian elephant as a migration route and trapped about 45 elephants in the western side of the camp (5). The latest Rohingya settlement has also amplified humanelephant conflict in the area, with 13 human casualties so far (6). The remaining elephant habitat is under severe pressure from uncontrolled fuelwood collection in the forest (7). The pressure on forests has caused tensions with local
This article is a comparative study between predictive processing (PP, or predictive coding) and cognitive dissonance (CD) theory. The theory of CD, one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology, is shown to be highly compatible with recent developments in PP. This is particularly evident in the notion that both theories deal with strategies to reduce perceived error signals. However, reasons exist to update the theory of CD to one of “predictive dissonance.” First, the hierarchical PP framework can be helpful in understanding varying nested levels of CD. If dissonance arises from a cascade of downstream and lateral predictions and consequent prediction errors, dissonance can exist at a multitude of scales, all the way up from sensory perception to higher order cognitions. This helps understand the previously problematic dichotomy between “dissonant cognitive relations” and “dissonant psychological states,” which are part of the same perception-action process while still hierarchically distinct. Second, since PP is action-oriented, it can be read to support recent action-based models of CD. Third, PP can potentially help us understand the recently speculated evolutionary origins of CD. Here, the argument is that responses to CD can instill meta-learning which serves to prevent the overfitting of generative models to ephemeral local conditions. This can increase action-oriented ecological rationality and enhanced capabilities to interact with a rich landscape of affordances. The downside is that in today’s world where social institutions such as science a priori separate noise from signal, some reactions to predictive dissonance might propagate ecologically unsound (underfitted, confirmation-biased) mental models such as climate denialism.
How do mushroom foragers make safe and efficient decisions under high degrees of uncertainty, or deal with the genuine risks of misidentification and poisoning? This article is an inquiry into ecological rationality, heuristics, perception, and decision-making in mushroom foraging. By surveying 894 Finnish mushroom foragers with a total of 22,304 years of foraging experience, this article illustrates how socially learned rules of thumb and heuristics are used in mushroom foraging. The results illustrate how traditional foraging cultures have evolved precautionary principles to deal with uncertainties and poisonous species, and how foragers leverage both simple heuristics and complex cognitive strategies in their search for, and identification of, mushrooms. Foragers also develop selective attention through experience. The results invite us to consider whether other human foraging cultures might use heuristics similarly, how and why such traditions have culturally evolved, and whether early hunter-gatherers might have used fast and frugal heuristics to deal with uncertainty.Note: The heuristics and rules discussed in this text should NOT be used as a guide for identifying mushrooms. Always consult a local expert and multiple information sources before picking or eating wild mushrooms.
Sivumäärä/ Sidoantal -Number of pages 50 Tiivistelmä/Referat -Abstract This thesis consists of two parts. Part 2, the main part of this thesis, consists of a research article titled 'Reframing Tacit Human-Nature Relations: An Inquiry into Process Philosophy and the Philosophy of Michael Polanyi'. Part 1, respectively, serves the role of a 'Preface' for the article in Part 2, consisting of introductory and commentary sections as well as proposals for further research.The research question of Part 2 follows: how can the theoretical frameworks set by process philosophy and the works of Michael Polanyi be implemented in the fields of environmental policy and philosophy, particularly in drawing a philosophical bridge between the two often bifurcated entities of 'society' and 'environment'? The question relates to ongoing discussion regarding the relation of mental models (or belief systems) to environmental behaviour. Process philosophy, a metaphysical school of thought emphasizing the ontological and epistemological primacy of process (change, dynamics or flux) over substance (things), is shown to have the potential of being a more sustainable metaphysical basis for the interpretation of reality than predominant substance-biased mental models. Potential sustainability benefits of process philosophy can be found in its emphasis of fundamental interconnection between humans and nature, its emphasis of processes over products, its reification of change (such as climate change) and its accentuation of the reciprocal relation between individuals and socio-ecological systems. Moreover, process philosophy is shown to provide a coherent alternative for the divisive constructionist-realist debate, which has resulted in the so-called science wars and subsequent discrepancies between the social and natural sciences. The central arguments are reinforced with a variety of examples, most notably by allegorical use of the coastline paradox.The discussion on process philosophy is then supplemented with the epistemological framework of polymath Michael Polanyi. Polanyi's theory of tacit knowledge suggests as its central notion that we know more than we can tell, and that all knowledge, intellectual knowledge included, is rooted in embodied functions. Polanyi's theoretical framework is then presented to suggest the following question: if all intellectual knowledge is rooted in embodied knowledge, can these tacit frameworks be deliberately changed (nudged) in order to promote more sustainable behaviour? Particularly it is suggested that if both the public and experts tacitly carry embodied substance-biased belief systems, the reframing of these embodied metaphysical frameworks with process-philosophical alternatives could induce more sustainable dwelling. Finally, the theoretical frameworks of process philosophy and Michael Polanyi's epistemology are shown to provide together an interesting prospect in the design of sustainable mental models and thus contribute to the design of both educational and political instruments.Part 1 serves ...
How do mushroom foragers make safe and efficient decisions under uncertainty, or deal with the genuine risks of misidentification and poisoning? This article is an inquiry into ecological rationality, heuristics, perception, and decision-making in mushroom foraging. By surveying 894 Finnish mushroom foragers, this article illustrates how socially learned rules of thumb and heuristics are used in mushroom foraging, and how simple heuristics are often complemented by more complex and intuitive decision-making. The results illustrate how traditional foraging cultures have evolved precautionary heuristics to deal with uncertainties and poisonous species, and how foragers develop selective attention through experience. The study invites us to consider whether other human foraging cultures might use heuristics similarly, how and why such traditions have culturally evolved, and whether early hunter-gatherers might have used simple heuristics to deal with uncertainty.
This article combines insights from ecological rationality and cultural evolution to illustrate how simple heuristics – colloquially, “rules of thumb” – have guided human behaviour and the evolution of complex cultures. Through a variety of examples and case studies, we discuss how human cultures have used rules of thumb in domains as diverse as foraging, resource management, social learning, moral judgment, and cultural niche construction. We propose four main arguments. Firstly, we argue that human societies have a rich cultural history in applying rules of thumb to guide daily activities and social organization. Second, we emphasise how rules of thumb may be convenient units of cultural transmission and high-fidelity social learning – the backbones of cumulative cultural evolution. Third, we highlight how rules of thumb can facilitate efficient decision making by making use of environmental and bodily features. Fourth, we discuss how simple rules of thumb may serve as building blocks for the emergence of more complex cultural patterns. This paper sets a research agenda for studying how simple rules contribute to cultural evolution in the past, the present, and the Anthropocene future.
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