Documentation of Mental Models in Microbiological Biofilm Researh

User insights studies and behavioral intervention strategies

In 2018 Design Psychology established a joint research project with the Costerton biofilm Center at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Immunology and Microbiology. The objective of the Mental Models in Biofilm Research project is to apply Design Psychological user insight tools to uncover and document which mental models of biofilm that exist in both the research community and in applied medical practice.


For an introduction to the logic of the project we refer to the book “Making Truth: Metaphors in Science” by Theodore L. Brown.

For an introduction to the logic of the project we refer to the book “Making Truth: Metaphors in Science” by Theodore L. Brown.

Mental models are a double-edged sword. One the one side mental models help us make sense of the unknown and push the boundaries in scientific research. They do so by porting in structure and causal relations from existing and familiar knowledge domains. On the other side, the very same qualities may also inhibit the advancement of new scientific insights when the structure and causality of the mental models that govern a scientific communicate become outdated.

This spring (2019) data-collection and data collection from the user insights studies (both qualitative and quantitative) will end, and the results will be communicated both in conference presentations and scientific journals.

Fall 2019, the project will enter the next phase where an intervention tool and strategy will be developed to help ensure that mental models in scientific communities continuously can be both quality assured and quality controlled.

Mental Models in Design Development

The approach used in the Mental Models in Biofilm Research project resembles how Design Psychology assist companies do transformative design development. Here the same mechanisms apply. Most companies have a governing mental model of their customers and the market at large. This mental model may have outlived its purpose and have become an impediment to innovation and design development. Therefore, the mental model(s) need to be uncovered and explicit quality checked for its utility and potential limitations. If a mental model is deemed outdated and a hindrance by not being able to drive new insights new more appropriate mental models need to be explored for their potential utility.

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Want to learn more

To learn more about the project and how the same methodology may apply to your business please reach out to our Director of Technology Design: Rune Nørager +45 4041 4422