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.
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.
” 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