Our most commonly used methods are drawn from the “toolbox” of Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA). CTA has its roots in “traditional,” industrial task analysis of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The goal of this work was to break down complicated or complex behaviors into simpler sub-tasks that could be more easily taught and learned by a novice. (This sort of task analysis allows an expert mechanic to break down the task of repairing an engine into steps, such as diagnosis, trouble-shooting, identification of required parts and tools, removal, re-installation, etc.) Cognitive Task Analysis takes the same idea and applies it to the tasks of the mind.

CTA, then, is focused on understanding the cognition of an individual or group by breaking complex processes into component parts that are tractable. At Cognitivity we study consumer decision-making, often the decisions related to product purchase and usage. Each decision can only be understood by identifying the environmental cues, situational factors, prior knowledge and experience, that influence the decision. The structure of CTA interviews allows us to efficiently and effectively mine this information and fully understand decision-making.

Finally, the interviews themselves may take many forms. The CTA toolbox contains methods for accessing information on various cognitive processes, based on many different types of individuals or experiences. We may use Critical Decision Method Interviews, Simulation Interviews, or Knowledge Audits, depending on the situation; we may use all three, or a number of others. Please check our blog for more information on methods, and for updates on recent project-based applications of CTA.