Studying agricultural decision making about climate uncertainty in developing countries

Authors: Kurt Waldman*, Dept of Geography, Jordan Blekking, Indiana University, Tom Evans, University of Arizona
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Environmental Perception
Keywords: Decision making, decisions, uncertainty, risk, developing country, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In situations of uncertainty, people often make decisions with heuristic shortcuts or rules of thumb, rather than rationally maximizing their utility. The high level of uncertainty involved in adapting to climate change suggests that heuristics would be commonly used in this context. Through a meta-analysis of 147 articles, we explore the behavioral and cognitive assumptions used to examine agricultural decision making related to climate change among smallholder farmers in developing countries. We find a strong orientation toward modeling behavior and decision making as a rational utility-maximizing process, despite decades of research demonstrating simpler heuristic choice when facing uncertainty and real world constraints. There is also a weak linkage between agricultural decisions and specific dimensions or perceptions of weather or climate change. While there is a burgeoning literature using psychological insights to examine decisions made under climate uncertainty, few studies model how people perceive climate-related threats and how their behavior is a response to perceived threats.

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