• joshwilsher

Day 11 & 12 - Cognitive Mapping & Observation

Cognitive Mapping:

A method to organize problems and and make decisions on difficult choices. Cognitive maps can help researchers see into underlying agendas and feelings.

What I Learned:

While the concept map and mind map are based loosely upon the psychology of a group or person, the cognitive map is like their older sibling that leans more into determining and making sense of participants decisions and issues. A cognitive map "can be monopolar or bipolar: which allows for...shades of gray". This means that concepts can go back and forth or have several thoughts in an area. It can weigh the pros and cons of each situation in the map. Cognitive maps also don't have a nucleus and are free to start and end where they need.


The book gave a great example of practicing. It states:

"...novice mappers should try practicing the technique with existing transcripts or taped interviews."

So that's what I'm going to do! Using a random interview I found online, I pulled aspects of it and build a very rough cognitive map (see below). It was interesting mapping out the participants response and I found that while the person couldn't name 5 hobbies, the 5th one could have been music as they had a great deal of opinions on music. When asked about punk rock it provided me with a look into their thoughts on music and then their response of their top artists helped me to see why they may not like "classic punk" and prefer green day more.


A base research skill that helps researchers to view situations and people. A simple but effective method that requires attention and a keen eye for environments, people and their behavior.

What I Learned:

Observation seems like such an easy method to do but it is one that can yield a great deal of results simply by looking at a situation. When researching using observation, we should do our best to remove ourselves from the environment as we don't want to "find what we are looking for" and rather let things play out so that pure observation can be achieved. Patterns and themes can be found and other information can be made fact. Assumptions can be confirmed after observance in interviews.


UMOD gave an example of a photograph with several people and provided several questions to answer for observation, they are:

  1. Who?

  2. Doing what?

  3. With whom?

  4. Setting?

  5. Context?

  6. Relationship?

Using these questions, I searched for an image of people in a public park and went through to answer these questions about a handful of people in the images. While I could get more concrete facts if I was in person observation, this exercise helped me observe outside of the environment and ask questions that I can then confirm later.

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