Modeling Stewardship Decisions

Full Title

Advancing behavioral models of private land stewardship to improve environmental policy


Note: This project is part of a larger initiative, in partnership with Resources for the Future, focused on advancing the field of coupled socio-environmental analysis by emphasizing the deeper integration and reconciliation of natural science and economic systems models.

The decisions of private land stewards have important consequences for landscape scale social and environmental outcomes.  As such, diverse policies and incentive mechanisms have been implemented with the aim of influencing land stewardship to reduce negative environmental impacts and benefit environmental public good and ecosystem service provisioning.  Such policies often use regulation or monetary incentives to influence behavior and can vary greatly in their efficacy. We hypothesize that ineffective policies arise in part due to incomplete consideration of behavioral processes, factors influencing land management decisions, and heterogeneities in land manager contexts and characteristics.

Our research will advance behavioral models and land stewardship policy by integrating across diverse behavioral theory and social science perspectives – including from economics, cognitive and social psychology, sociology, and evolutionary anthropology – to better represent how social and environmental factors across scales interact to shape or constrain land stewardship decisions. We will explore, through data, theory, and mathematical models, the usefulness of richer behavioral models for explaining private land stewardship decisions and for informing more effective policy design to manage outcomes arising from diverse land stewards operating across heterogeneous conditions and contexts.

Project Type
Team Synthesis Project
Principal Investigators
Rebecca Epanchin-Niell, Resources for the Future; University of Maryland
Robyn Wilson, The Ohio State University
Tyler Treakle, Resources for the Future
Doug Jackson-Smith, Ohio State University
Gwen Iacona, University of Queensland
Matthew Ashenfarb, Resources for the Future
Ashley Dayer, Virginia Polytechnic University
Ezra Markowitz, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Vicken Hillis, University of California, Davis
Sandra Marquart-Pyatt, Michigan State University
Margaret Walls, Resources for the Future

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