METHODS FOR SYSTEM MAPPING
2. Socio-cognitive mapping
2. Socio-cognitive mapping
This method, formulated originally by Paul Thagard of the University of Waterloo and further developed by Cascade Institute researchers, generates diagrams—called "cognitive-affective maps” (or CAMs)—of the concept network that a person or group uses to represent a specific subject, such as another individual or group or an issue in dispute. In the network, each concept is assigned a positive or negative emotional valence, and the types of links between concepts indicate whether the valences are directly or inversely correlated. The result is a detailed image of a system of emotionally charged concepts that can assist in-depth analysis of worldview change over time, possibilities for future change, and the avenues for dispute resolution.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, Manjana Milkoreit, Steven J. Mock., Tobias Schröder, and Paul Thagard. “The Conceptual Structure of Social Disputes: Cognitive-affective Maps as a Tool for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.” Sage Open (January-March, 2014): 1-20, doi: 10.1177/2158244014526210.
This method, developed by Cascade Institute director Thomas Homer-Dixon, allows researchers to identify and analyze key differences between worldviews. It exploits the idea of a state space, which is a picture, much like a three-dimensional map, of all possible states of a system. In this case, the position of a given political-economic worldview is plotted on fifteen distinct dimensions. Each dimension is a continuum of possible answers to a single question that most worldviews commonly address, such as “Are differences between human groups large and essential or small and unimportant?” and “Are moral principles relative (subjective) or absolute (objective)?” Taken as whole, this high-dimensional space allows researchers to judge the cognitive distance between worldviews, map possible migration pathways between them, and identify previously unrecognized worldviews.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Mindscape,” Chapter 18 of Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril (Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2020), pp. 298-320.
This method, which is still under development by Jonathan Leader Maynard of King’s College and Jinelle Piereder of the University of Waterloo, represents worldviews across groups of individuals and investigates how second- and third- order beliefs motivate behavioural change, in the process identifying possibilities for worldview “tipping points” within groups. People may adhere to a given worldview either because they sincerely believe it or because they adopt it instrumentally—to improve their social status or economic rewards, for example. Large-scale patterns of social behavior are thus sustained by networks of individuals, groups, and institutions—or “worldview assemblages”—that encourage such sincere belief or instrumental conformity. Rapid, nonlinear change in worldviews at the level of a group or society can occur when specific configurations of sincere belief or instrumentalization arise in these social networks.