Continuing research interests:
Cognitive mapping has been more commonly used in disciplines other than geography, most typically to solve management and educational theory problems (references). Cognitive mapping is a process whereby the perception of an individual about a particular issue or problem is presented in a diagrammatic as opposed to linear format (Eden 1988; Eden et al 1979; 1983; Eden and Ackermann 1998). Consisting of both concepts (variables) and linkages between those variables (causal paths), cognitive maps allow the progression of a scenario to be visualised as a series of processes, through a network of interlinking concepts, as opposed to a simple cause and effect. Cognitive mapping is particularly useful at working through messy, complex strategic issues, where it is important to know not only what each construct or statement means but also to know why they fit together as they do hence its potential application in human-environment interaction issues. Cognitive mapping can be used to make sense of large amounts of information as it has the ability to show multiple explanations and consequences, is able to represent feedback loops and multiple options and anticipated positive and negative ramifications of options (Eden and Ackermann 1998). The cognitive map itself allows not only a visual representation of the perceived factors that lead to farm abandonment, but also illustrates how such factors are interconnected. Cognitive mapping therefore allows farm abandonment to be approached from a unique perspective, with the cognitive maps presenting an alternative strategy from which to develop further hypotheses and ideas of farm abandonment.
An additional use of cognitive mapping that I have been researching is in the way cognitive mapping represents the understandings and perceptions of different actors. By creating maps with different groups of people concerned with farm abandonment, for example between farmers and academics or between Icelandic and Faroese farmers, cognitive mapping can help figure out how much and in which way the views of these different actors are distinct.
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