Step 4 (Optional): Design, Conduct, and Analyze Qualitative and/or Quantitative Research, Building on Foundational Mental Models Research

Where needed, one can follow-up, supplement, or complement in-depth qualitative (mental models) interviews with other qualitative research such as focus groups, or quantitative research in the form of structured surveys with a large and representative

Sample mental models diagram

Fig. 2.4 Sample mental models diagram

sample of stakeholders, or other quantitative methods. Such research can be an efficient and economical approach to validate and extend the results of mental models interviews in differing social contexts and, in the case of representative surveys, can be used to quantitatively assess the prevalence of beliefs in that population.

Figure 2.5 presents sample results from a follow-on, quantitative web survey[1] with U.S. adults who said they were considering plastic surgery or another appearance-altering procedure in the next year or two. The mental models research protocol and results were used to design the web survey questionnaire. The open- ended Mental Modeling approach allowed for characterizing beliefs and influences relevant to the decision to have plastic surgery. The green bars in Fig. 2.5 show the relative importance of different considerations in these decisions regarding plastic surgery (which 19 % had undergone before) for the survey sample. The black bars show comparable ratings to the mental models interviews. With few exceptions, the results from the web survey and the interviews were very similar.

  • [1] Conducted by Penn Schoen Berland.
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