The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility
25 October 2023 (Wednesday), 11:00-13:00, imagine2

Guided by Cognitive Processes: The Wayfinders Approach to Futures

Our study explores the cognitive heuristics and biases inherent in the scenario and futures thinking process. It aims to illuminate the role of mental models and biases in shaping our understanding of the future. We leverage research from foresight, design, behavioral science, and psychology to introduce bias mitigation strategies.
We aim to raise individual and collective awareness of biases to reduce distortions and systematic errors in the futures process.
By recognizing the influence of situatedness, the research highlights the importance of practitioners' understanding of how their worldviews and perspectives shape the narratives and methods they use. We make the case that acknowledging the inherent biases within our narratives enhances our ability to create comprehensive and inclusive futures scenarios.
We propose using design methods to facilitate awareness and mitigate cognitive biases in scenario planning. By employing design methods, practitioners enhance their foresight toolkit by incorporating tools that allow them to examine their situatedness and engage in critical self-reflection across different functions of futures thinking.
We frame the discussion using Roy Amara's three main functions of futures thinking: Visionary, Analytical, and Participatory. By exploring these functions through a cognitive lens, our audience will better understand the processes involved in envisioning, analyzing, and engaging with possible and preferred futures.
Our research, intended for future-generation futurists, encourages practitioners to adopt a conscious approach to scenarios and futures thinking. By disclosing and addressing cognitive biases, practitioners can enhance the quality and inclusivity of their work, leading to more robust and insightful visions of the future.

Emerging Fellow
Better Flow
Graduate Student (MSc in Foresight)
University of Houston
Graduate Student
University of Houston
Faculty Member
Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University