Psychometric and Health Based Studies on Society and Human Behavior

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Paste your essay in here…Table 6 presents opportunities to link social and ecological valuation methods. This table has a larger share of arrangements allowing for parallel use only (or at best combination). Again, commensurability of values needs to be understood broadly here, as an opportunity for those methods to mutually complement each other (hence requiring some degree of comparability on the same scale) and provide a more comprehensive picture of the analysed aspects of nature. Ecological valuation methods provide useful ecosystem characteristics, which can be then assessed with the use of social valuation methods (ensuring compatibility). However, this works only when ecological characteristics can be understood by those who are expressing values.

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Rankings are relatively easy to integrate with ecological valuation methods (Botzat et al. 2016); most of the ecological value concepts contain certain attributes that can be ranked by people when they are provided with additional information. For example, social preferences for functional diversity of plants can be studied in different neighbourhoods and countries, but this requires working with traits that are presumably meaningful to people and not necessarily any traits that biologists might address (Goodness et al. 2016). Obviously, rankings can also be based on expert opinion, which makes it possible to use them even in the case of the most complicated concepts, such as phylogenetic diversity. Rankings may not be the sharpest of tools, but they can be further combined with other valuation methods and tools. The only cases where integration with rankings would not be meaningful are conservation status and focal species. It would hardly make sense to rank species by how threatened they are and link this to their value. And it would be equally difficult to make sense out of a ranking of focal species. Such rankings would be skewed because people tend to rank highly what is very rare or what is very abundant, overlooking what is in the middle – and the same in the case of what is considered a focal species. Parallel use would be more relevant for these two methods.

Observation of people’s behaviour (e.g. protesting or other articulations of concern) can be used to indicate which phenomena and aspects of nature are valued. However, for such observation results to be meaningful, we have to assume that people show a behavioural response to information (which needs to be meaningful to them). Therefore, integrating observation with ecological valuation methods only makes sense in the case of the relatively easy to understand selected aspects of functional performance (such as those resulting in shade or other most basic and tangible ecosystem functions), conservation status and focal species. In other cases, at best, ecological valuation methods can be combined with the observation of people’s behaviour in response to new information or new developments.

Similarly, storytelling can pick up on any issue, provided that the person who tells the story can construct a narrative that captures the issue or – at least – that the researcher can make sense of what the respondent is telling. Therefore, integration is relatively easy in the case of selected aspects of functional performance, conservation status and focal species, but it is more challenging for other ecological valuation methods. The relatively vague biodiversity indexes, such as species lists, or at least the presence of selected focal species have been part of conservation narratives for a long time. They reflected how conservation has been articulated. Also, species lists and spatial heterogeneity are relatively easy for people to link to historical situations. Conversely, phylogenetic diversity and functional diversity can only be expected to be addressed by regular people in very specific circumstances. One example might be the current upswing for landrace or heirloom varieties, a trend where people are concerned with the often culturally meaningful variation within a well-known species, reflecting concerns regarding monocultures, homogenisation and loss of cultural heritage (Veteto and Skarbø 2009).

Content analysis can potentially be integrated with any ecological valuation method. This is so because one can look for information in any sphere, any group of documents (legal documents, newspaper articles etc.), whatever is relevant from the point of view of one’s study. These documents can reflect opinions of different groups of stakeholders and can reveal the different values these groups attribute to nature.

Similarly, deliberative methods can potentially be integrated with any ecological valuation method. In the case of deliberative methods, the different respondents (or even representatives of different stakeholders) are brought together to discuss a given problem. The exchange of knowledge and perspectives influences how the individual thinks, and potentially also the values she or he holds. New information, or even value statements expressed by others, can change how respondents value something. This may be related to new information on complex concepts of ecological diversity (such as phylogenetic diversity and spatial heterogeneity).

Psychometric and health-based studies are difficult to integrate with ecological valuation methods. Indeed, they seem irrelevant in most circumstances of potential arrangements of different value dimensions – because of limited commensurability they can only be used in parallel with most ecological valuation methods. Nevertheless, both psychometric and health-based methods can be connected to functional performance. For example, both can be used to study how people feel (or how they respond with stress etc.) in different green spaces depending on their microclimate or shade, which may be considered as transparent and broadly understood categories of functional performance. Also, psychometric methods could potentially be integrated with spatial heterogeneity, especially as far as variation in the landscape is concerned.

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