Interviewing to Understand the Mental Models of Others

All professionals conduct interviews, often to determine what another person understands, feels, believes, or is willing to discuss about topics of interest.  The new Sea Grant publication, Mental Models Interviewing, is intended to help professionals such as agency officials, university outreach/extension specialists, and social science researchers interview more effectively by  providing a structure grounded in behavioral and communication research.

Just as a model airplane is a representation of a real airplane, so are mental models representations in our minds of something real. The question we’re trying to answer in mental models interviewing is, how does this other person put together this reality? A model airplane comes in a box full of pieces; what do interviewees perceive as being in the “box” of the topic at hand, and how do they think the pieces fit together? More precisely, interviewers often want to know how interviewees understand causes and effects.

Mental Models Interviewing describes the technique and answers the questions “What am I listening for?” and “How am I listening?”

To Order:

Title: Mental Models Interviewing
Oregon Sea Grant Product No.: ORESU-H-11-002
12 pages, color cover, B&W insides
Price: $2.50, plus shipping & handling as follows: first copy, $2.00; each additional copy, $1.00 For prices on 11 or more copies, please call 541-737-4849.

You may order this publication through Oregon Sea Grant’s e-Commerce Web site, or download a .pdf or text version for free.

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