Exploring behavioural change through an agent-oriented system dynamics model: the use of personal protective equipment among pesticide applicators in Colombia


Giuseppe Feola, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg A 62, 14473 Potsdam, Germany. E-mail: feola.giuseppe@googlemail.com


The misuse of Personal Protective Equipment results in health risk among smallholders in developing countries, and education is often proposed to promote safer practices. However, evidence point to limited effects of education. This paper presents a System Dynamics model which allows the identification of risk-minimizing policies for behavioural change. The model is based on the IAC framework and survey data. It represents farmers' decision-making from an agent-oriented standpoint. The most successful intervention strategy was the one which intervened in the long term, targeted key stocks in the systems and was diversified. However, the results suggest that, under these conditions, no policy is able to trigger a self sustaining behavioural change. Two implementation approaches were suggested by experts. One, based on constant social control, corresponds to a change of the current model's parameters. The other, based on participation, would lead farmers to new thinking, i.e. changes in their decision-making structure. Copyright © 2011 System Dynamics Society.