Fuzzy-Logic Cognitive Mapping: Introduction and Overview of the Method

Ziga Malek

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Lack of information and large uncertainties can constrain the effectiveness and acceptability of environmental models. Fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping (FCM) is an approach that deals with these limitations by incorporating existing knowledge and experience. It is a soft-knowledge approach for system modeling, where components of a system and their relationships are identified and semi-quantified in a participatory way. Its usefulness has been manifested through applications in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, information technology, business, and medicine. This chapter introduces FCM as a simple, transparent, and flexible participatory method to model complex social-ecological systems based on expert and stakeholder knowledge. It describes the evolution of FCM to environmental modeling due to its ability to facilitate public participation, data generation, and systems thinking. Numerous actors can be involved when studying environmental issues: experts, scientists, decision makers, and other stakeholders. Thus, a wide range of opinions and perceptions can be taken into account, providing a platform for discussion and negotiation among different actors. Moreover, data that is otherwise inaccessible can be gathered through FCM. Finally, one of the most significant characteristics of the method is the possibility to study causal relationships and feedback loops. In this way, FCM supports decision-making by simulation and scenario studies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Modeling with Stakeholders
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Methods, and Applications
EditorsGray Steven, Paliosso Michael, Jordan Rebecca, Gray Stefan
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9783319250533
ISBN (Print)9783319250519
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Decision support
  • Expert knowledge
  • Facilitating stakeholder involvement
  • Fuzzy-logic cognitive mapping
  • Participatory modelling
  • Social-ecological modelling
  • Stakeholder communication
  • Stakeholder learning
  • Stakeholder negotiation
  • Uncertainties in data and knowledge


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