Research group SESAM

Socio-Environmental Systems Analysis and Modelling

The research group SESAM (Socio-environmental Systems Analysis and Modelling) is led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Ernst. The group pursues basic and applied research on human-environment interaction with the aim to support strategies for sustainable development. This research includes environmental perception, the interaction between people, and the distribution of resources with the related conflicts. Associated topics are, among others, decision making under uncertainty, risk perception, dealing with complex systems, resource dilemmas, the diffusion of environmentally relevant attitudes, norms and behaviour, conflict resolution, as well as time and risk preferences. This is complemented by analyses of societal dynamics and an attempt at unifying actor-centred concepts with the description of societal systems.

The psychological theory building process focusses on the dynamics of relations between variables. The work is supported by data from interviews, online-surveys, questionnaires, and experiments. We aim at building valid, runnable computer models based on these data. This is done by so-called agent-based models, which explicitly represent the decision maker as the unit of analysis, as well as their interaction with others. These models allow for testing interventions and playing through possible scenarios of the future.