Structure

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The structure of a causal map reflects the organization of the concepts in a map. Since

most techniques used to analyze content lack a quantitative mechanism for comparing

causal maps, researchers have used structural measures of causal maps in comparative

studies linking causal maps to other relevant constructs. Most of the measures focus on

some aspect of the complexity of the map drawing on the assumption that the higher the

complexity of the map, the higher the level of cognition of the individual.

From the map in Figure 4 you can see that there are four concepts (represented as a term

enclosed in a box) and three linkages (lines with arrowheads) in the map. The three causal

linkages are from object to method, object to object-oriented development and from

object-oriented development to identifying objects. The concepts that have all arrows

terminating into the concept are effect-only concepts (e.g., method), whereas the

concepts with all arrows originating from the concept are cause-only concepts (e.g.,

object).

As mentioned previously, in some instances there are mutually connected concepts.

When two concepts are mutually connected, the concepts are causally connected in both

directions (the two concepts are both causes and effects of each other). Mutually

connected concepts are represented as a two-headed arrow. This reciprocal relationship

indicates that these concepts are closely intertwined and form a system within the map.

In addition to the concepts and linkages, measures are utilized to operationalize the

structural properties of the causal maps. Many of the measures are adapted from the

social network field (Knoke & Kulkinski, 1982) and the applicability of each measure is

Table 9. Sample causal mapping measures