This chapter addresses the role of psychological complexity in addressing environmental impacts. Recognizing, processing, and understanding environmental impacts is difficult and cognitively costly, because it requires understanding the relationships between human behavior and nature, which is made up of notoriously complicated and interactive natural systems. This generates significant cognitive load, and triggers a number of identifiable cognitive phenomena, including heuristics and biases that tend to (over)simplify complex situations. Understanding how people deal with complexity can help environmental lawyers and policy makers predict how people will respond to environmental phenomena, which in turn will make it easier not just to regulate but to know how people will respond to that regulation. Where possible, we flag potential approaches that environmental law and policy makers can use to effectively manage and respond to the challenges that complexity presents.
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