Analysis and comparison of cognitive maps

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    Julieta MC


    First of all I would like to introduce you the context of my research. I am a PhD researcher in the field of planning and development. Particularly, I study the process of assessment of costs and benefits for multifunctional land use.

    For my PhD research, I am involved in a project team with 10 stakeholders who belong to different disciplines and administrative levels. The main goal of this team is to develop financial strategies to get political and private support for the project.

    My study is longitudinal. I follow the project meeting for one year and I am taking individual interviews from the stakeholders in three different points of time. My main goal is to compare the perceptions of stakeholders in the process, to evaluate the influence of the cognitive processes in their decisions and the progress of the process.

    I already collected the first round of cognitive maps. I followed an approach similar to the 3CM, asking participants the following:

    – The most important aspects of the project from their point of view.
    – The most important aspects of the project they think other participants consider important.
    – If they can categorize these aspects and give a name to the categories.
    – Give a grade (from 1 to 5) in terms of importance to the aspects.
    – Make an explicit semantic relationship between categories (if any).

    Afterwards, I asked participants to describe the maps and what they have created, finishing the interview with open questions.

    I use the Cmap Tool for the maps. This results in very different and heterogeneous cognitive maps and it is quite different to establish a comparison among them. I am exploring the possibility of using software for content analysis like the KH coder, and provide a hierarchical cluster analysis….

    However, I get the analysis of individual maps, but it seems difficult to get a systematic comparison among maps.

    Does anybody have any experience analyzing and comparing cognitive maps who could give me any suggestions?

    Thanks a lot!

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