Team mental models: Techniques, methods, and analytic approaches

J. Langan-Fox, S. Code, K. Langfield-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

198 Citations (Scopus)


Effective team functioning requires the existence of a shared or team mental model among members of a team. However, the best method for measuring team mental models is unclear. Methods reported vary in terms of how mental model content is elicited and analyzed or represented. We review the strengths and weaknesses of various methods that have been used to elicit, represent, and analyze individual and team mental models and provide recommendations for method selection and development. We describe the nature of mental models and review techniques that have been used to elicit and represent them. We focus on a case study on selecting a method to examine team mental models in industry. The processes involved in the selection and development of an appropriate method for eliciting, representing, and analyzing team mental models are described. The criteria for method selection were (a) applicability to the problem under investigation; (b) practical considerations - suitability for collecting data from the targeted research sample; and (c) theoretical rationale - the assumption that associative networks in memory are a basis for the development of mental models. We provide an evaluation of the method matched to the research problem and make recommendations for future research. The practical applications of this research include the provision of a technique for analyzing team mental models in organizations, the development of methods and processes for eliciting a mental model from research participants in their normal work environment, and a survey of available methodologies for mental model research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-271
Number of pages30
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes

Cite this