Cognitive Migration:The Role of Mental Simulation in the (Hot) Cultural Cognition of Migration Decisions (link to the article)
David Kyle & Saara Koikkalainen
This paper introduces the novel empirical concept of “cognitive migration” to better understand the role of the prospective imagination, or mental simulation, in the decision-making process before major mobility events to a new neighborhood, city, or country. First, relying on existing social science approaches, we describe the problem of how to understand the particularly risky decision to migrate abroad without authorization; Second, we review briefly some of the recent work in social cognitive and decision sciences that could potentially be brought to bear on our case, though undeveloped in the social science migration literature; Third, we describe cognitive migration, and, hence, cognitive migrants, as a concept that allows us to capture a significant, yet largely unidentified temporally-distinct part of migration decision-making amenable to a cultural or social cognitive approach (how our social world affects cognition and vice versa); Lastly, we offer initial support for this empirical concept from recent cognitive and neuro-scientific research on emotions and develop some hypotheses regarding the determinants and effects of cognitive migration–as opposed to the physical migration event itself. We argue that family, friends, recruiters, and smugglers may provoke a less rational (cost-benefit) mode of reasoning and, instead, elicit cognitive migration as we negotiate an imagined social future that feels right.