Illuminating divergence in perceptions in natural resource management: A case for the investigation of the heterogeneity in mental models

  • Karlijn van den Broek (Author)
    University of Heidelberg

Identifiers (Article)


Much research has been dedicated to map mental models of natural resources to aid effective management of the natural resource. The variety of approaches result in a variety of outputs, but most research in this domain reports mental models that have been aggregated across participants. This results in a misrepresentation of mental models as it overlooks valuable variance in understanding between individuals that could be key in effective decision-making. This paper illustrates such variance in mental models through a case study that explored mental models of the Nile perch fisheries at Lake Victoria. This case study suggests that divergence in mental model present a barrier to effective management of the fisheries. Hence, this paper proposes avenues to further investigate and report the heterogeneity of mental models between and within individuals. Such research uncovers divergence in understanding, which can be addressed to aid decision-making in natural resource management.




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Contributor or sponsoring agency
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Type, method or approach
position paper
Cogntive psychology; system dynamics; natural resource management
cognitive maps; decision-making; divergent perceptions; fisheries; Lake Victoria; method; mental models; natural resource management; stakeholders; system understanding