Mind the mind: How to effectively communicate about cognition in social-ecological systems research

Social-ecological systems (SES) research underlines the tremendous impact of human behaviour on planet Earth. To enable a sustainable course of humanity, the integration of human cognition in SES research is crucial for better understanding the processes leading to and involved in human behaviour. However, this integration is proving a challenge, not only in terms of diverging ontological and epistemological perspectives, but also - and this has received little attention in SES research - in terms of (lacking) precision of communication regarding cognition. SES scholars often implicitly disagree on the meaning of this broad concept due to unexpressed underlying assumptions and perspectives. This paper raises awareness for the need to communicate clearly andmindfully about human cognition by exemplifying common communication pitfalls and ways of preventing them. We focus on the concept of cognition itself and provide aspects of cognition that need to be communicated explicitly, i.e. different objects of investigation and levels of description. Lastly, we illustrate means of overcoming communication pitfalls by the example of rationality.


Contact: Anna Lena Bercht

Project Dates: 2019

Keywords: Behaviour, Cognition, Miscommunication, Rationality, Social-ecological systems research