Artifact Analysis as a Way to Understand Cognition

Christopher P. Nemeth and Richard I. Cook

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Engineering

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199757183
Published online May 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Artifact Analysis as a Way to Understand Cognition


Checklists, status boards, and information displays can be found throughout high-hazard sectors including the military, aviation and aerospace, nuclear power generation, ground transportation, and health care. Experts use cognitive artifacts to manage these complex, uncertain, high-stakes environments. The researcher in these settings can easily be overwhelmed by their complexity and the volume and richness of data. Cognitive artifacts offer the researcher a “way in” to study these settings because they embody the essential features (semantics) of such work domains. This makes cognitive artifacts an efficient way to identify, reveal, and describe cognitive work in conjunction with other methods such as observation and interviews. This chapter contributes to meeting the challenges of technological systems by presenting examples from health care that show how the study of cognitive artifacts reveals essential domain features and operators’ cognitive performance.

Keywords: cognitive artifact; artifact analysis; cognition; distributed cognition; health care

Article.  7129 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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