Cognitive maps (also known as conceptual graphs, concept maps, and mind maps) have been used for some time by researchers in psychology, computer science, and political science as a method of depicting the conceptual structures that people use to represent important aspects of the world. Representing beliefs as sets of connected concepts allows one to recognize the relevance of distinct patterns of coherence in decision making and other kinds of inference.
What is called for is a method capable of representing social identity not simply as a collection of myths, symbols and values but rather as an interconnected network of myths, symbols and values in a given equilibrium state. In response to this need, we offer cognitive-affective mapping as a new method of graphically diagramming points of view. The products of this method — cognitive affective maps, or CAMs for short — represent an individual’s concepts and beliefs about a particular subject, such as another individual or group or an issue in dispute. Concepts and beliefs, each with its own affective loading, are connected together into a network with links representing either compatibility or incompatibility between them.
Visit the research tools page for more information about EMPATHICA and a link to the software enabling users to create CAMs.
Read a working paper by Steve J. Mock of the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) describing this topic: Cognitive-Affective Mapping (CAM) in the Study of National Identity.