M-Tool is the Mental Model Mapping Tool, an innovative free software designed to capture perceptions of complex systems (or mental models) with mobile devices. This is the first mental model tool that can be used by all kinds of users, as it does not require the respondent to read or write. Thanks to the standardised set-up of the tool, you can directly compare the perceptions of groups of respondents. The tool can be tailored to map perceptions of any system or phenomenon that consists of factors and causal links between those factors. Respondents create visual diagrams of a particular system by organizing relevant factors and linking them. For example, one can draw the processes that cause climate change, influence the fluctuation of (fish) stock, or the functioning of an economy.

Why use M-TOOL?

  • A standardized tool – for comparing mental models
  • Suitable for large sample sizes
  • Does not require respondents’ literacy
  • No internet connection required during sampling
  • Can be tailored to map perceptions of any system or phenomenon

In contrast to other mental model elicitation methods, M-TOOL uses a fully computerized approach that allows rapid collection of large samples. M-TOOL uses a fully standardized approach as it provides your respondents with the same factors with which they draw their mental model. M-TOOL hence gives you the unique benefit of comparing the mental models across and within (groups of) respondents. M-TOOL is the first mental modelling tool to allow users to uncover differences in mental models which may keep stakeholder groups from addressing challenges jointly and effectively. Because you can populate the tool yourself, mental models of any kind of system can be captured. M-Tool relies solely on intuitive icons to display the factors, allowing you to assess populations that cannot read or write, such as low educated populations or children.

    For example


    • Comparing mental models between groups of respondents (e.g. different types of stakeholders, experts vs. the general public, across cultures, communities from different geographical areas, comparing children’s mental models)

    • Assess changes in mental models over time, to investigate the stability of mental models or the impact of an intervention on the respondents’ mental model.

    • To start a conversation between stakeholders on the functioning of a system and how to address challenges within the system.

    • Compare perceptions with the true state of a system.

    • Investigate the relation between (differences in) individual mental models and collective mental models composed in a group.

      See How to use M-tool how you can tailor the tool to your needs!


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