A cognitive map (sometimes called a mental map or mental model) is a type of mental representation which serves an individual to acquire, code, store, recall, and decode information about the relative locations and attributes of phenomena in their everyday or metaphorical spatial environment.
- Cognitive maps are most effective when used to structure complex problems.
- It’s designed specifically as a decision-making tool that can inform strategic direction.
- Unlike concept maps or mind maps, the format and structure require no central focus of visualization.
- Nodes of a cognitive map are made up of the exact words and phrases spoken by participants.
- Each node can have as many incoming and outgoing associations as necessary and are read as causal pathways: for example, node x may imply node y.
- Cognitive mapping can facilitate the note-taking process during interviews and when transcribing text-based qualitative data.