Modelling and attitudes towards the future

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The outputs of ecological models often need to be projected several years, or decades, into the future. The psychological literature tells us that stakeholders rarely think of such a distant future and when they do, they employ cognitive styles different from the ones commonly used for planning and decision making, which the ecological models are designed to facilitate. This may affect the reception of modelling efforts in several ways. Stakeholders may question the very purpose of trying to say anything meaningful about such a distant future; may consider model outputs as irrelevant to planning; or may provide emotional, often unconscious, responses motivated by deeply held fears and aspirations. Modellers too may display some of these behaviours. Here, we review the relevant literature and describe a questionnaire a modeller could use to explore these issues within a stakeholder group. We also report an experiment which shows how the very act of answering the questionnaire can significantly change the perception of future time horizon and future concerns and discuss the possible implications for modelling projects.




Boschetti, F., Walker, I., & Price, J. (2016). Modelling and attitudes towards the future. Ecological Modelling, 322, 71–81.

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