Are emotions to blame? — The impact of non-analytical information processing on decision-making and implications for fostering sustainability
Policy advice based on a rationalist perspective to foster sustainable behaviour has approached its limits; and gaps in the established models are becoming more and more obvious. To better understand how unsustainable choices are made, and to foster sustainable decision-making, alternatives to the rationalist models of human decision-making need to be investigated. Such alternative models have already demonstrated their usefulness in other fields than ecological economics. The paper begins with a presentation of conventional models of human behaviour, as well as their advances and limitations in ecological and behavioural economics. In most of these models, the dominance of analytical thinking still prevails. I identify this as problematic given the evidence for the influence of emotion and intuition in decision-making. To offer a perspective on human behaviour that acknowledges this influence, dual-process models are presented. Established applications of these models are then used to propose four basic types of explanations for unsustainable behaviour. Based on these explanations preliminary ideas to promote sustainable decision-making are developed. These ideas are considerably different from policy implications of the established economic model.
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