Browse Prior Art Database

MENTAL MODELS AND SOFTWARE HUMAN FACTORS: AN OVERVIEW

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000148458D
Original Publication Date: 1984-May-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2007-Mar-30
Document File: 16 page(s) / 1M

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

Carroll, John M: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

John M. CarrollComputer Science Department q IBM Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 ABSTRACT: Mental models are structures and processes imputed to a person's mind in order to account for that person's behavior and experience. Ideally speaking, a mental model is a theory that could give answers to questions like "What does he know about the CHAR DEL key?", "What happens when she thinks about deleting a message?", or "Why did he split the line to insert text, instead of just inserting?" The development of mental model theories is a major thrust of current software human factors research and as such is likely to be a future driving force in software design. This brief review was requested by the National Research Council's Committee on Human Factors and will eventually appear in proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mental Models and Software. -1- Mental models are structures and processes imputed to a person's mind in order to account for that person's behavior and experience. Ideally speaking, a mental model is a psychological theory that could give answers to questions like "What does he know about the CHAR DEL key?", "What happens when she thinks about deleting a message?", or "Why did he split the line to insert text, instead of just inserting?"

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RC 10616 (ij47016) 5/1/84 Computer Science/Cognirion

MENTAL MODELS AND SOFTWARE HUMAN FACTORS: AN OVERVIEW

John M. Carroll
Computer Science Department

q

IBM Watson Research Center Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

ABSTRACT: Mental models are structures and processes imputed to a person's mind in order to account for that person's behavior and experience. Ideally speaking, a mental model is a theory that could give answers to questions like "What does he know about the CHAR DEL key?", "What happens when she thinks about deleting a message?", or "Why did he split the line to insert text, instead of just inserting?" The development of mental model theories is a major thrust of current software human factors research and as such is likely to be a future driving force in software design.

This brief review was requested by the National Research Council's Committee on Human Factors and will eventually appear in proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Mental Models and Software. -1-

   Mental models are structures and processes imputed to a person's mind in order to account for that person's behavior and experience. Ideally speaking, a mental model is a psychological theory that could give answers to questions like "What does he know about the CHAR DEL key?", "What happens when she thinks about deleting a message?", or "Why did he split the line to insert text, instead of just inserting?"

   The mental models approach is novel from the perspectives of both traditional human factors and academic cognitive psychology. Traditional human factors work has focussed principal attention on behavior itself, and has typically avoided the problem of describing the conceptual causes and effects of behavior. However, mental model theories are fundamentally concerned with abstract descriptions of human learning, problem solving, memory and planning. Academic cognitive psychology has typically focussed on highly controlled and specially contrived laboratory tasks, and has thus avoided the problem of describing real task domains. However, the mental models approach has specifically addressed the description of real domains and accordingly mental model theories refer to a rich variety of highly domain- specific information (command names, keyboard layouts, office work conventions).

   The development of mental model theories is a major thrust of current software human factors research. As such it is likely to be a future driving force in software design. In addition, the work is having an impact on academic cognitive psychology, attracting new researchers to software human factors. The basis for this apparent and promised impact needs to be analyzed to better focus further developments of the mental models a...