Cross-Cultural Perception, Cognition and Mental Models

Individual perception is the starting point for processes of cognition and the social construction of mental models. Cognition is based on perception and implies individual learning, reasoning and applying knowledge as well as processes of mental imagery, emotions and collective memory.

Mental models are clipping parts individuals use to place (new) issues within existing frames of knowledge. Research aims to reconstruct the mental models of climate change and their assumptions within key social spheres. It is suggested that there are certain aspects shared widely, while other perceptions are born out of specific cultural, historical and regional contexts.

To compare and integrate the construction of knowledge across these different social groups research focuses on different regional “hot spots” (North Sea Coast, Bay of Bengal, low-lying coralline small islands and Southern Africa) where expected impacts of climate change have to be dealt with.

The integration of work from geographers, communication scientists and cultural anthropologists enables to reconstruct this knowledge with different regional scopes, in different depths and referring to different bodies of knowledge (cognition, art, media), including modes of visual communication like photography.