Mental models concepts for system dynamics research

Mental models concepts for system dynamics research Although “mental models” are of central importance to system dynamics research and practice, the field has yet to develop an unambiguous and agreed upon definition of them. To begin to address this problem, existing definitions and descriptions of mental models in system dynamics and several literatures related to cognitive science were reviewed and compared. Available definitions were found to be overly brief, general, and vague, and different authors were found to markedly disagree on the basic characteristics of mental models. Based on this review, we concluded that in order to reduce the amount of confusion in the literature, the mental models concept should be “unbundled” and the term “mental models” should be used more narrowly. To initiate a dialogue through which the system dynamics community might achieve a shared understanding of mental models, we propose a new definition of “mental models of dynamic systems” accompanied by an extended annotation that explains the definitional choices made and suggests terms for other cognitive structures left undefined by narrowing the mental model concept. Suggestions for future research that could improve the field's ability to further define mental models are discussed. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png System Dynamics Review Wiley

Mental models concepts for system dynamics research

System Dynamics Review, Volume 14 (1) – Mar 1, 1998

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0883-7066
eISSN
1099-1727
D.O.I.
10.1002/(SICI)1099-1727(199821)14:1<3::AID-SDR140>3.0.CO;2-K
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Although “mental models” are of central importance to system dynamics research and practice, the field has yet to develop an unambiguous and agreed upon definition of them. To begin to address this problem, existing definitions and descriptions of mental models in system dynamics and several literatures related to cognitive science were reviewed and compared. Available definitions were found to be overly brief, general, and vague, and different authors were found to markedly disagree on the basic characteristics of mental models. Based on this review, we concluded that in order to reduce the amount of confusion in the literature, the mental models concept should be “unbundled” and the term “mental models” should be used more narrowly. To initiate a dialogue through which the system dynamics community might achieve a shared understanding of mental models, we propose a new definition of “mental models of dynamic systems” accompanied by an extended annotation that explains the definitional choices made and suggests terms for other cognitive structures left undefined by narrowing the mental model concept. Suggestions for future research that could improve the field's ability to further define mental models are discussed. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Journal

System Dynamics ReviewWiley

Published: Mar 1, 1998

References

  • The Architecture of Cognition
    Anderson, J. R.
  • Designing risk communications: Completing and correcting mental models of hazardous processes, Part 1
    Atman, C. J.; Bostrom, A.; Fischhoff, B.; Morgan, M. G.
  • Mental models in narrative comprehension
    Bower, G. H.; Morrow, D. G.
  • Dynamic decision making. Human control of complex systems
    Brehmer, B.
  • Probing the mental models of system state categories with multidimensional scaling
    Coury, B. G.; Weiland, M. Z.; Cuolock‐Knopp, V. G.
  • Mental Models
    De Kleer, J.; Brown, J. S.
  • Cognitive mapping and problem structuring for system dynamics model building
    Eden, C.
  • Principles of Mental Imagery
    Finke, R. A.
  • Social Cognition
    Fiske, S. T.; Taylor, S. E.
  • Mental Models
    Gentner, D.; Gentner, D. R.
  • Children's Understanding: The Development of Mental Models
    Halford, G. S.
  • Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
  • Public understanding of global warming
    Kempton, W.
  • Visual Cognition and Action: An Invitation to Cognitive Science
    Kosslyn, S. M.
  • Mental Models
    Larkin, J. H.
  • Parallel Distributed Processing: Explorations in the Microstructure of Cognition
    McClelland, J. L.; Rumelhart, D. E.

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