Abstract

Because most real-world domains intended to be supported by an information system are complex, practitioners often use multiple different types of conceptual modeling scripts to understand them. We performed two experiments to examine how two theoretical factors of multiple scripts, combined ontological completeness and ontological overlap, influence how users develop an understanding of a real-world domain from multiple scripts. Results of the first experiment show that ontological overlap, to some degree, improves participants’ understanding of a domain, more so than combined ontological completeness does. In the second experiment, we tracked eye movement data of participants to be able to understand how ontological overlap between scripts impacts users’ information search and cognitive integration processes. We find that some occurrence of semantically similar constructs between scripts helps individuals to identify and relate constructs presented in different scripts. Users, therefore, can identify, and focus on, script areas that are relevant to their problem tasks. However, a high level of ontological overlap decreases participants’ attention to relevant task-specific areas because they spend more time on searching for relevant information. Together, our findings both refine and extend existing conceptual modeling theory. We clarify the dialectics between full and parsimonious real-world representations offered through multiple scripts and an individual’s understanding of a domain that is represented by those scripts.

DOI

10.17705/1jais.00750

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