Philippe d’Iribarne, Alain Henry, Papiers de Recherche AFD, No. 2015-05-FR, Avril 2015.
The World Bank’s groundbreaking Development Report, Mind, Society and Behavior (WDR 2015) opens up a wide range of perspectives, focusing on how humans act according to the meaning they give to the situations in which they find themselves. It sees this way of acting as obeying forms of local rationality that experts should take into account. He includes development experts in his analysis of human behaviour because they too can be influenced by the prejudices of their environment, taking for granted what is in fact only the product of the filters produced by the mental models they are imbued with.
This paper discusses the uneven progress made by the Report, depending on the aspects targeted. One strong point concerns the ways in which we can go about changing what may be considered bad habits. But a difficulty arises from the fact that the Report uses the same term of mental model (or culture) to designate more general mental models, linked to broad conceptions of existence, of the organization of living together – what could be called macro-cultures, concerning a whole country – in contrast to the micro-cultures that are discussed most of the time. We examine the reasons for this contrast between the report’s emphasis on the transformative experience of mental micro-models and a great reluctance to consider a more informed and creative use of macro-models.