Cognitive Complexity in Business Process Modeling

  • Kathrin Figl
  • Ralf Laue
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6741)


Although (business) process models are frequently used to promote human understanding of processes, practice shows that understanding complex models soon reach cognitive limits. The aim of this paper is to investigate the cognitive difficulty of understanding different relations between model elements. To allow for empirical assessment of this research question we systematically constructed model sets and comprehension questions. The results of an empirical study with 199 students tend to suggest that comprehension questions on order and concurrency are easier to answer than on repetition and exclusiveness. Additionally, results lend support to the hypothesis that interactivity of model elements influences cognitive difficulty. While our findings shed light on human comprehension of process models, they also contribute to the question on how to assure understandability of models in practice.


Business Process Models Understandability Cognitive Complexity 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kathrin Figl
    • 1
  • Ralf Laue
    • 2
  1. 1.Vienna University of Economics and Business AdministrationAustria
  2. 2.Computer Science FacultyUniversity of LeipzigGermany

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