Cognitive Style and Business Process Model Understanding

  • Oktay TuretkenEmail author
  • Irene Vanderfeesten
  • Jan Claes
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 286)


Several factors influence the level of business process model understanding. In this paper, we investigate two personal factors that potentially relate to this level: a reader’s cognitive style and theoretical knowledge on business process (BP) modeling. An experiment with 183 graduate students was conducted to explore their differences in cognitive styles using Cognitive Style Index (CSI) and how these relate to their scores in process model understandability. We used two real-life BPMN collaboration diagrams as our process models in our experiment. The results indicate a significant difference between intuitive and analytic students with respect to the level of BP model understandability. The relation between students’ theoretical BP modeling and notation competency, and their level of model understanding is also found significant.


Business process modeling Process model comprehension Model understandability Cognitive style Cognitive style index (CSI) Theoretical business process modeling knowledge 


  1. 1.
    Reijers, H.A., Mendling, J.: A study into the factors that influence the understandability of business process models. IEEE Trans. Syst. Man. Cybern. 41, 449–462 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Mendling, J.: Metrics for Process Models: Empirical Foundations of Verification, Error Prediction and Guidelines for Correctness. Springer, New York (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Figl, K.: Comprehension of procedural visual business process models. Bus. Inf. Syst. Eng. 59, 1–27 (2017)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Pinggera, J., Zugal, S., Weidlich, M., Fahland, D., Weber, B., Mendling, J., Reijers, H.A.: Tracing the process of process modeling with modeling phase diagrams. In: Daniel, F., Barkaoui, K., Dustdar, S. (eds.) BPM 2011. LNBIP, vol. 99, pp. 370–382. Springer, Heidelberg (2012). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-28108-2_36 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Claes, J., Vanderfeesten, I., Reijers, H.A., Pinggera, J., Weidlich, M., Zugal, S., Fahland, D., Weber, B., Mendling, J., Poels, G.: Tying process model quality to the modeling process: the impact of structuring, movement, and speed. In: Barros, A., Gal, A., Kindler, E. (eds.) BPM 2012. LNCS, vol. 7481, pp. 33–48. Springer, Heidelberg (2012). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-32885-5_3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Poppe, E., Brown, R., Recker, J., Johnson, D., Vanderfeesten, I.: Design and evaluation of virtual environments mechanisms to support remote collaboration on complex process diagrams. Inf. Syst. 66, 59–81 (2017)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Mendling, J., Reijers, H.A., Recker, J.: Activity labeling in process modeling: empirical insights and recommendations. Inf. Syst. 35, 467–482 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Aysolmaz, B., Reijers, H.A.: Towards an integrated framework for invigorating process models: a research agenda. In: BPM Workshops 2014, pp. 11–16 (2014)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Aysolmaz, B., Brown, R., Bruza, P., Reijers, H.A.: A 3D visualization approach for process training in office environments. In: Debruyne, C., et al. (eds.) OTM 2016, vol 10033, pp. 436–445. Springer, Cham (2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Razavian, M., Turetken, O., Vanderfeesten, I.: When cognitive biases lead to business process management issues. In: Dumas, M., Fantinato, M. (eds.) Business Process Management, BPM 2016. LNBIP, vol. 281, pp. 147–156. Springer, Cham (2017). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-58457-7_11
  11. 11.
    Recker, J., Reijers, H.A., van de Wouw, S.G.: Process model comprehension: the effects of cognitive abilities, learning style, and strategy. Commun. Assoc. Inf. Syst. 34, 199–222 (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mendling, J., Strembeck, M., Recker, J.: Factors of process model comprehension—Findings from a series of experiments. Decis. Support Syst. 53, 195–206 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Turetken, O., Rompen, T., Vanderfeesten, I., Dikici, A., Moll, J.: The effect of modularity representation and presentation medium on the understandability of business process models in BPMN. In: La Rosa, M., Loos, P., Pastor, O. (eds.) BPM 2016. LNCS, vol. 9850, pp. 289–307. Springer, Cham (2016). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-45348-4_17 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Paas, F., Tuovinen, J., Tabbers, H.: Cognitive load measurement as a means to advance cognitive load theory. Educational 38, 63–71 (2003)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Claes, J., Vanderfeesten, I., Pinggera, J., Reijers, H.A., Weber, B., Poels, G.: A visual analysis of the process of process modeling. Inf. Syst. E-bus. Manag. 13, 1–44 (2014)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Claes, J., Vanderfeesten, I., Gailly, F., Grefen, P., Poels, G.: The Structured Process Modeling Theory (SPMT) - A cognitive view on why and how modelers benefit from structuring the process of process modeling. Inf. Syst. Front. 17, 1401–1425 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Claes, J.: The Structured Process Modeling Method (SPMM) - What is the best way for me to construct a process model? Decis. Support Syst. (2017, in press). doi: 10.1016/j.dss.2017.02.004
  18. 18.
    Figl, K., Recker, J.: Exploring cognitive style and task-specific preferences for process representations. Requir. Eng. 21, 63–85 (2016)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Allinson, C., Hayes, J.: The cognitive style index: a measure of intuition-analysis for organizational research. J. Manag. Stud. 33, 119–135 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Allinson, C., Hayes, J.: The Cognitive Style Index: Technical Manual and User Guide. Pearson Education Ltd, London (2012)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Cools, E., Armstrong, S.J., Verbrigghe, J.: Methodological practices in cognitive style research: Insights and recommendations from the field of business and psychology. Eur. J. Work Organ. Psychol. 23, 627–641 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Armstrong, S.: The influence of individual cognitive style on performance in management education. Educ. Psychol. 20(3), 323–339 (2000)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Armstrong, S., Hird, A.: Cognitive style and entrepreneurial drive of new and mature business owner-managers. J. Bus. Psychol. 24(4), 419–430 (2009)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hayes, J., Allinson, C.W., Armstrong, S.J.: Intuition, women managers and gendered stereotypes. Pers. Rev. 33(4), 403–417 (2004). doi: 10.1108/00483480410539489
  25. 25.
    Myers, I.B., Briggs, K.C.: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Educational Testing Service, Princeton (1962)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ornstein, R.E.: The Psychology of Consciousness. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York (1977)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Brigham, K.H., Sorenson, R.: Cognitive style differences of novice serial and portfolio entrepreneurs: a two-sample test. In: (BCERC-2008) Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research 2008 (2008)Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Allinson, C.W., Chell, E., Hayes, J.: Intuition and entrepreneurial behaviour. Eur. J. Work Organ. Psychol. 9, 31–43 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Backhaus, K., Liff, J.P.: Cognitive styles and approaches to studying in management education. J. Manag. Educ. 31, 445–466 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Ma, W.W.K., Sun, K., Ma, J.: The influence of cognitive learning styles on the use of online learning environments. In: Cheung, S.K.S., Fong, J., Kwok, L.-F., Li, K., Kwan, R. (eds.) ICHL 2012. LNCS, vol. 7411, pp. 221–230. Springer, Heidelberg (2012). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-32018-7_21 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Houy, C., Fettke, P., Loos, P.: Understanding understandability of conceptual models – what are we actually talking about? In: Atzeni, P., Cheung, D., Ram, S. (eds.) ER 2012. LNCS, vol. 7532, pp. 64–77. Springer, Heidelberg (2012)Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Laue, R., Gadatsch, A.: Measuring the understandability of business process models - are we asking the right questions? In: Muehlen, M., Su, J. (eds.) BPM 2010. LNBIP, vol. 66, pp. 37–48. Springer, Heidelberg (2011). doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-20511-8_4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Field, A.: Discovering Statistics using IBM SPSS Statistics, 4th edn. SAGE Publications Ltd. (2013)Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Vessey, I., Galletta, D.: Cognitive fit: an empirical study of information acquisition. Inf. Syst. Res. 2, 63–84 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oktay Turetken
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irene Vanderfeesten
    • 1
  • Jan Claes
    • 2
  1. 1.Eindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations