Facts are not enough

Claude Garcia & Patrick Waeber developed a framework based on behavioural and cognitive sciences, game theory, and set theory that helps us understand decisionmaking in the context of uncertainty. It was published recently in a nice article on the researchfeatures of researchoutreach.

Every single day we make thousands of decisions.
Even if it is unclear to us, they are based on expectations – what we think will happen – and values – what we want to see happen.
This is no different in times of crisis, except such decisions have more complex, long-term, and potentially disastrous outcomes. Regarding climate urgency, understanding why decisionmakers opt for certain choices is fundamental if we wish to steer society onto a more sustainable pathway.
A simple set of questions helps understand why decisions are made and classify decision makers accordingly, into five archetypes.
This innovative framework helps predict behaviour and choices people will make when confronted with a crisis such as the climate urgency.

Choices we make:
a) a framework to develop a theory of action;
b) all archetypes operate rationally under their conditions (eg, social, educational);
c) they strategise with different information at their disposal, and under different values, beliefs, and capabilities. 

What archetype are you?

These conditions help the researchers identify five archetypes in total.
1. ‘The Uninformed’ archetype has not heard information about the climate crisis, and so does not act. Due to extensive media coverage, this is now rare.
2. ‘The Denier’ has heard about the climate crisis but does not believe it is happening, or that it is created by human activities. Confronted with the narrative, they will actively fight against or suppress it.
3. ‘The Occupied’ is aware of the issue and believes it is real and caused by human activities; however, they do not value its significance and therefore deem it not their primary concern. There are a multitude of reasons why Occupied decisionmakers exist, like the need for short-term survival, or the belief that technology will provide solutions. They will typically dismiss or postpone action.
4. ‘The Concerned’ is aware, understands, and wants to act. Sadly, the Concerned lacks capacity, means or leverage. Their actions are misguided, mis-timed or inefficient. They are in a tug of war with the ‘Occupied’ and ‘Denier’.
5. ‘The Architect’ is the alternative to conflict. It is the only archetype that can catalyse transformative change. Architects have the means to make a positive impact and will act and empower others to act to reduce global negative environmental trends.

” The Architect is the alternative to conflict.”

Navigating a complex world

The world is not simple. There are a multitude of different concerns for citizens to consider, some environmental, many not. Garcia and Waeber envisage this as a multidimensional solution space through which the world moves. The many dimensions (axes) represent variables that the citizens take an interest in. For the sake of simplicity, Garcia and Waeber use ‘nature’ on the x-axis and ‘humanity’ on the y-axis, often represented as conflicting targets. In addition, we can also visualise the impact of someone’s choices as a vector pushing the world in a given direction, with arrow length representing power.

The solution space is a framework to represent the development pathways each archetype is ready and willing to explore. There are four sub-spaces for exploration:
1) humans win at the expense of nature;
2) win–win pathways;
3) nature wins at the expense of humanity; and
4) all lose.
Vectors are used to represent agents and their decisions:
i) the length of the vector represents the power of an agent;
ii) the direction reflects the intentions of an agent;
iii) the angle (compared to an axis) denotes the efficiency an agent establishes for the trade-off between the two dimensions (axes).

” It is possible to shape our future rather than just witness it.”

If we can understand how and why we make our decisions, it is possible to shape our future rather than just witness it. Mind, afterall, is for anticipation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: