Abstract for: What's in a mental model of a dynamic system? On the conceptual structure and approaches to model comparison

This paper deals with the representation of mental models of dynamic systems (MMDS). The notion of ’mental model’ (MM) has always been fundamental in system dynamics, and 10 years ago, a specific definition was introduced. However, no conceptual model of MMDS content has been offered so far. Two assessment and comparison methods have been borrowed from general MM research:. Are these methods are equivalent in procedure and results, and do they satisfy specific needs of system dynamics? Two exemplary MMDAs are compared with both of the methods, which are found to be different in procedure and in results they produce. In addition, they ignore the feedback loop concept. Based on this finding, we propose a conceptual model for the structure of MMDS, a method for comparing MMDSs and a tentative revised definition of MMDS. The application to the exemplary models shows some alleged advantages. A preliminary conclusion is that more discussion and comparative work are needed.