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Assessing attitudes and cognitive styles of stakeholders in environmental projects involving computer modelling

Ecological Modelling
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2012.07.027
  • Communication Of Model Results
  • Worldviews
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Decision Making
  • Attitudes
  • Cognitive Styles
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Political Science
  • Psychology


Abstract For modellers, stakeholder acceptance of a model usually hinges on data accuracy, model reliability, and problem uncertainty. For social scientists, model acceptance by stakeholders also depends on model context, type of problem, implications of the model, characteristics of the audience and stakeholders, the charisma and reputation of the modeller, and much else. In this paper, we review some tools from the cognitive and social psychology literature employed to study cognitive styles, worldviews and political ideology. From them, we select items which are relevant to assessing these features in stakeholders of environmental projects involving the use of computer modelling. By adding other items specifically designed to gauge attitudes towards complexity, science and computer modelling itself, we propose a questionnaire a modeller could employ early in a project in order to understand the type of audience the modelling results will have to be communicated to. This can help better design the communication and engagement process. We test the questionnaire with a representative sample of the Australian population and with a stakeholder team involved in the management of a regional fishery. The results point to the importance of considering worldviews and cognitive variables such as open-mindedness and trust in science and modelling.

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