What should Indi name her book: Mental Models or Alignment Diagrams?

On the Rosenfeld Media blog, Indi posted a note asking whether she should name her book “Mental models” or “Alignment Diagrams”. Read her post for background.

I am one of the people who thinks she should stick to the term “Mental Models”. I think the term is a good description of what she is writing about. When I mentioned this to her, she was concerned about the reaction from cognitive psychologists. I say: “To heck with cognitive psychologists”. I am one of them (yes, I am a cognitive psychologist by training) and I think this is the right term to describe what she is doing, even if is not entirely be in keeping with how congiitve psyhologists like Johnson & Laird might use the term. In fact, two years ago, when I submitted a paper to CHI with the word “Mental Models” in the title I got the same type of feedback in the reviews.

I will say now what I did not say at the time: the term “mental models” has acquired a life of its own common enough usage in the field of usability / user experience. It does not matter if their usage does not precisely map to the way that a cognitive purist uses the term.

Also, its a catchy term, much more so than “Alighment Diagrams”. Indi – I look forward to reading the book about Mental Models!

One thought on “What should Indi name her book: Mental Models or Alignment Diagrams?

  1. Mental model is what I think of them as. I really do not like the Alignment Diagrams, perhaps Alignment Models is better. The AD sounds really sterile, boring, and unhelpful.

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