The Human Mind as a Barrier to Wiser Environmental Agreements
American Behavioral Scientist
Human ingenuity offers the best hope for tackling a whole range of environmental problems currently threatening global welfare, yet the human mind also creates cognitive barriers to wise environmental agreements. In this article, the authors focus on a set of six systematic cognitive barriers that are particularly endemic to environmental disputes. The fixed-pie bias grows from the assumption that disputants' interests are perfectly opposed. This mythical fixed pie inhibits the discovery of beneficial trade-offs that integrate parties' interests. The authors also discuss five other cognitive biases that combine with the fixed-pie assumption to influence the resolution of disputes in the environmental domain: pseudosacredness, egocentrism, overconfidence, unrealistic optimism, and endowment effects. They discuss the potential role of learning and experience in improving negotiator performance and conclude with prescriptive advice for overcoming these cognitive barriers.
Bazerman, M.H., Moore, D.A., Gillespie, J.J. (1999). The Human Mind as a Barrier to Wiser Environmental Agreements. American Behavioral Scientist, 42; 1277-1300