Cognitive maps to understand agricultural practices

We analysed the practices and decision-making processes linked to grassland management in a Belgian grassland-based livestock farming system. Our work confirmed that a social cognitive map could be drawn up for multiple loca tions. The results showed how this inductive cognitive mapping approach overcame two limitations frequently highlighted in previous studies: the diverse interpretations of variables and relationships; and the difficulty in revealing the rationale in cognitive maps.

Development of a broadened cognitive mapping approach for analysing systems of practices in social–ecological systems

Frédéric Vanwindekens, D. Stilmant, P.V. Baret, Ecological modelling, 250(2013):352-362

This paper presents a new cognitive mapping approach for analysing systems of practices in social–ecological systems. These systems are mapped from people’s views collected during open-ended interviews. Cognitive maps are made up of diverse variables (e.g., operations, drivers, constraints)linked to each other by a range of relationships: cause–effect, fluxes of matter, information flows and sequence of two operations. Individual cognitive maps heuristically model the practices and decision-making processes expressed by interviewees. The mathematical formulation of cognitive maps allows individual cognitive maps to be aggregated into a social cognitive map. The latter can be used to model the sys- tem of practices used by a particular group of people. Using this approach, we analysed the practices and decision-making processes linked to grassland management ina Belgian grassland-based livestock farming system. Our work confirmed that a social cognitive map couldbe drawn up for multiple loca tions. The results showed how this inductive cognitive mapping approach overcame two limitations frequently highlighted in previous studies: the diverse interpretations of variables and relationships; and the difficulty in revealing the rationale in cognitive maps.

 

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