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The information environment is

the aggregate of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, disseminate, or act on information.[1]


The actors include leaders, decision makers, individuals, and organizations. Resources include the materials and systems employed to collect, analyze, apply, or disseminate information. The information environment is where humans and automated systems observe, orient, decide, and act upon information, and is therefore the principal environment of decision making. Even though the information environment is considered distinct, it resides within each of the domains.

Snapshot 2009-10-31 18-37-40



The information environment is made up of three interrelated dimensions: physical, informational, and cognitive.

  • The Cognitive Dimension. The cognitive dimension encompasses the mind of the decision maker and the target audience (TA). This is the dimension in which people think, perceive, visualize, and decide. It refers to individuals' or groups' information processing, perception, judgment, and decision making. These elements are influenced by many factors, to include individual and cultural beliefs, norms, vulnerabilities, motivations, emotions, experiences, morals, education, mental health, identities, and ideologies. Defining these influencing factors in a given environment is critical for understanding how to best influence the mind of the decision maker and create the desired effects. As such, this dimension constitutes the most important component of the information environment.


  • Physical Properties. Physical properties of the information environment include people, places, things, and capabilities of information infrastructure and adversary information capabilities.
(a) Specification, capacity, configuration, and usage of information infrastructure and capabilities.
(b) Technical design of information infrastructure.
(c) Networks of human-to-human contact used for the transmission of information
(d) Social and commercial networks that process and share information and influence (kinship and descent linkages, formal and informal social contacts, licit and illicit commercial affiliations and records of ownership and transactions, etc.).
(e) Content and context.
  • Cognitive Properties. Cognitive properties of the information environment are the psychological, cultural, behavioral, and other human attributes that influence decision making, the flow of information, and the interpretation of information by individuals or groups at any level in a state or organization.


  1. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Pub. 1–02: DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Nov. 8, 2010, as amended through May 15, 2011) (full-text).