Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Shane T. Mueller

Committee Member 2

Elizabeth Veinott

Committee Member 3

Robert Hoffman


Unique benefits can be gained by combining advantages of both micro- and macrocognitive methods that would otherwise be impossible to gather from either of these methods separately. The proposed research examines several cognitive functions within one systematic study that combines some empirical investigation with post-hoc qualitative assessment to gather knowledge of strategies and computations. Thereby, analyzing a larger cognitive system in a standardized way. By analyzing several cognitive functions the multifunction mental model hypothesis (MMM) is explored. This hypothesis states that performance of one sensemaking operation is predictive of performance of other related sensemaking operations. Three additional hypotheses were also explored. (2) Through brief instruction and feedback, mental models are developed that involve understanding the relational structure between inter-correlated and independent feature(s). (3) Understanding of the relational structure of the features can be used to make error correction decisions. (4) The strategies that utilize the inter-correlated nature of the features can be recognized and verbalized by users. Four Experiments used a multi-cue probabilistic weather forecasting task. Evidence from Experiments 1-4 supported the MMM hypothesis. Systematic variability in probability estimation by using differentially weighted features and inter-correlated features were related to evacuation decisions, error detection, and error correction. Results also supported hypotheses 2-4. The present research provides evidence which supports the integration of micro- and macrocognitive methods for a richer understanding of cognitive function in complex sociotechnical systems.