- Understanding farmers underlying mental models and perceptions. In particular, understanding the relevance of perception of a specific risk in relation to farmers’ livelihood.
- Comparing the mental models of experts to the one of farmers for identifying potential misunderstandings.
- Analyzing the sources of potential misunderstandings between experts and farmers.
- Supporting the development of intervention strategies, considering farmers’ mental models and their differences to the one of experts.
2. Conceptual Background
2.1. The Psychological Cognition Perspective
2.2. The Socio-Cultural Perspective
|Capital type||Definition||Related risk|
|Human capital||People and their ability to be economically productive. It includes educational level, skills, experience, knowledge, creativity and innovativeness |
Education level and health status of individuals and populations 
|Natural capital||The natural resource base available for pursuing an agricultural activity. It includes land and soil quality; access to water, etc. .|
Natural resource base (land, water, trees) that yields products utilised by human populations for their survival 
|Financial capital||Stocks of cash that can be accessed in order to purchase either production or consumption goods, and access to credit might be included in this category ||Financial risks|
|Physical capital||Assets brought into existence by economic production processes, for example, tools machines and land improvements like terraces or irrigation canals |
|Social capital||Process and condition of social networking among people that lead to accomplishing a goal of mutual social benefit, usually characterized by trust, cooperation, involvement in the community, and sharing [57,58]||Loss of social status and network|
- it includes relations between people rather than property owned by people
- it can usually be considered a public good shared by a group of people
- it is created by mutual effort over time of different people
2.3. Considering the Different Literacy Levels in Less Developed Countries
3. The Structured Mental Model Approach (SMMA)
Part I: Definition and weighting of the Individual Capitals
Part II: Analysis of the Livelihood Dynamics
Part III: Definition of the Social Capital
|Experts model of farmer’s livelihood||Farmers’ model of their livelihood|
|Influence diagrams of system elements and agents||Open-ended questions of system elements and agents|
3.1. Selection of Experts and Farmers
|Local technical assistance||Local technical assistance||Environmental engineer||National economist|
|Regional technical assistance||Regional technical assistance||Toxicologista||Local economist|
|Medical doctora||Pesticide sellera|
|Capital||High (state)||Low (state)|
3.2. Implementation of the SMMA
3.2.1. Introduction to the Research
3.2.2. Part I: Definition and Weighting of Farmers’ Individual Capitals
|Part of the interview||Examples of questions|
|Definition of the capitals||Here are the four capitals chosen to define farmers’ livelihood. They are defined as follows (see
Please complete the elements belonging to each type of capital.
|Ranking of the capitals||What role do the capitals play regarding farmers’ use of pesticides?|
Please rank the capitals with respect to their relative relevance for farmers and explain. (1 = highest relevance; 4 = lowest relevance)
Please consider their short- & long-term relevance.
|Elements named by experts||Consolidatedelement||Regional relation||Photograph|
|Communal church farmers go to|
|→||Religion||→||Visualization of religion in Vereda la Hoya||→|
|Part of the interview||Examples of questions|
|Definition element Photographs||Here are the four capitals chosen to define your livelihood in four groups. They are defined as follows…|
Please sort the following photographs into these four groups, commenting first on what you see in the photograph and second explaining why you chose to place the photograph in a specific group.
|Ranking of the capitals||What role do the capitals play regarding the specific risk?|
What role do the capitals play regarding your livelihood?
Please rank the capitals with respect to their importance for you and explain. (1 = highest relevance; 4 = lowest relevance)
Please consider their short- & long-term relevance.
|Experts||Element||Farmers’ element allocation to capital group|
|Human capital||Technical assistance||2||6||2|
3.2.3. Part II: Interaction and Dynamics between the Individual Capitals
- to analyze what a change in one capital state would have on the other capitals states, considering the specific risk analyzed;
- to depict the effects of one capital on another capitals with arrows in the diagram;
- to explain the depicted changes utilizing the elements they used to define the capitals.
|Part of the interview||Examples of questions|
|System dynamics||Please comment on farmers’ livelihood system considering the interaction among the capitals.|
To what extent and how does farmers risk management influence their capital states and respective elements?
How does the level of capital state (e.g., high or low wealth, education) influence farmers’ perception and decision-making with respect to risk?
|Influence diagram||Assume that, e.g., farmers’ financial capital increases. How will this change affect the other capitals? Please illustrate your statements within this figure. (Figure 2)|
For example: Increase of human capital→ safer use of pesticides →increase in health→higher labour capacity→ improved livestock → increased profits → higher financial capital → can buy less toxic, more effective pesticides
|Capital group||Examples of questions|
|Human||Did your parents also cultivate potatoes?|
What other crops did they cultivate?
Have the cultivation techniques changed with respect to the ones your parents used? If yes, how?
|Human||How did you learn to confront the pests (with pesticides, types of pesticides, biologic crop protection)?|
|Human||What do you do if you feel sick? (e.g., nausea after applying pesticides)|
|Physical||What kind of agricultural machineries are you using via a common village organisation?|
|Natural||How do you judge the quality of your soil?|
Has it changed since you cultivate potatoes/ carrots?
|Natural||What effect do you think have pesticides on plants? …on the soil? …on natural abundance in the fields (biodiversity)? … water?...your health?|
|Financial||What is the current price of potatoes/carrots? What do the prices depend on?|
|Financial||What would you do if you had more/less money?|
- Score 0: no effect perceived
- Score 1: effect perceived
- Score 2: effect perceived and explained
- Score 3: effect perceived, explained and stated to be risk related
|Human Capital(E/F)||Physical Capital (E/F)||Natural Capital (E/F)||Financial Capital (E/F)|
3.2.4. Part III: Social Capital (Agent Network)
|Topic||Examples of questions|
|Agents network||Who is the agent depicted in this photograph?|
|Agents network influence diagram||If you were here, place the agents recognized on the cards around you by considering how close you feel to every agent compared to the others|
- structures the interviews to first understand farmers’ perception of their livelihood and livelihood risks and potential gains.
- allows for comparing farmers’ perceptions to the ones of experts
- supports the analysis of potential sources of misunderstandings, and thus
- supports the development of sound intervention strategies
5.1. Insights Gained with the SMMA
5.1.1. Understanding Farmers’ Local Knowledge and Individual Motives and Values
|Technical assistance placed in||Ranking||Potential outcome|
|Farmer||Financial capital||Financial > Human||Same expected decision but different capital definition and weighting|
|Expert||Human capital||Human > Financial|
|Pesticide management placed in||Ranking||Potential outcome|
|Farmer||Financial capital||Financial > Natural||Apparently same capital weighting leads to different expected decisions if the capital definition is not elicited.|
|Expert||Natural capital||Financial > Natural|
5.1.2. Accounting for the Role of Social Capital and Access to Individual Capitals
5.1.3. Systemic Embedding of the Intervention Planned or Specific Risk to be Studied
5.1.4. Identifying Potential Origins of Misunderstandings
5.2. Policy Relevance
Considering the different literacy levels in less developed countries
5.3. Critical Issues, Validation and Need for Further Research
5.3.1. Critical Issues
5.3.3. Further Research
6. Concluding Remarks
|Interview part||Target capital||Aspect analyzed||Analysis and result presentation||Risk aspect considered|
|Part I||Individual capitals|
|Part II||Individual capitals|
|Part III||Social capital|
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