Cognition: Mental Representations, Problem Solving, and Decision Making

  • Frank E. RitterEmail author
  • Gordon D. Baxter
  • Elizabeth F. Churchill


There are several higher level structures built upon the basic structures of memory, attention, and learning in the user’s cognitive architecture. These representations and behaviors include mental models, problem solving, and decision making. These structures and processes form the basics of higher level cognition when interacting with technology, and describe some of the ways that users represent systems and interfaces, and how users interact with and use systems. Mental models are used to understand systems and to interact with systems. When the user’s mental models are inaccurate, systems are hard to use. Problem solving is used when it is not clear what to do next. Problem solving uses mental models, forms a basis for learning, and can be supported in a variety of ways. Decision making is a more punctuated form of problem solving, made about and with systems. It is not always as clear or accurate as one would like (or expect), and there are ways to support and improve it. There are some surprises in each of these areas where folk psychology concepts and theories are inaccurate.


Mental Model Functional Fixedness Confirmation Bias Confidence Judgment High Level Cognition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank E. Ritter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Gordon D. Baxter
    • 2
  • Elizabeth F. Churchill
    • 3
  1. 1.College of ISTThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA
  2. 2.School of Computer ScienceUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK
  3. 3.eBay Research LabsSan JoseUSA

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