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Psychology of Environmental Law$
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Arden Rowell and Kenworthey Bilz

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479812301

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479812301.001.0001

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(p.63) 3 Complexity
Psychology of Environmental Law

Arden Rowell

Kenworthey Bilz

NYU Press

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.

Keywords:   complexity, biases, cognitive load, heuristics

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