Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Climate Science. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 07 December 2022

Cognitive Biases, Non-Rational Judgments, and Public Perceptions of Climate Changelocked

Cognitive Biases, Non-Rational Judgments, and Public Perceptions of Climate Changelocked

  • Lisa ZavalLisa ZavalCenter for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED), Earth Institute, Columbia University
  •  and James F. M. CornwellJames F. M. CornwellColumbia University, United States Military Academy

Summary

In recent years, scientists have identified cognitive processes that short-circuit our deliberative faculties. In the domain of climate change in particular, a number of psychological barriers and biases may disrupt typical discourse and reflection and may even prevent those who are aware of climate change from taking action to mitigate or reduce its impact. These processes include the use of heuristic versions of calculation-based decisions to reduce processing load, which can make climate change judgments responsive to situational factors in the immediate decision context. Recent research in the decision sciences provides insight into how common biases in judgment inhibit rational deliberation about climate change, which may lead to the gap between society’s recognition of environmental problems and society’s frequent failure to address them appropriately. These insights involve the finite nature of human attention and cognitive resources, the complex interactions of personal experience and emotion, the challenges that uncertainty and risk place on behavior, and the profoundly social nature of human action. Understanding these barriers and systematic biases have led to a set of potential interventions, which demonstrate how practitioners can put research insights into practice in order to address a variety of sustainability challenges. One important direction for these interventions involves changing the decision context in ways that account for decision bias (e.g., using green defaults) and triggering more adaptive decisions as a result.

Subjects

  • Communication

You do not currently have access to this article

Login

Please login to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription