‘It's the Psychology, Stupid!’ Understanding Human Cognition Biases to Inform Sustainable Behavior

23 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2017

See all articles by John-Oliver Engler

John-Oliver Engler

University of Vechta

David J. Abson

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Henrik von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg

Date Written: December 12, 2017

Abstract

We synthesize and discuss 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 contribute to unsustainable behavior, human cognition biases in group settings are 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.

Keywords: environmental decision making, human cognition biases, rational choice, sustainable behavior

JEL Classification: D10, D70, D80

Suggested Citation

Engler, John-Oliver and Abson, David J. and von Wehrden, Henrik, ‘It's the Psychology, Stupid!’ Understanding Human Cognition Biases to Inform Sustainable Behavior (December 12, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3086532 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3086532

John-Oliver Engler (Contact Author)

University of Vechta ( email )

David J. Abson

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Wilschenbrucher Weg 69
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

Henrik Von Wehrden

Leuphana University of Lueneburg ( email )

Scharnhorststraße 1
Lüneburg, 21335
Germany

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