Attitudinal mapping

Jump to navigation Jump to search

List of methods / SenseMaker® use

Attitudinal mapping refers to approaches (primarily using SenseMaker) that attempt to map the underlying attitudes, ideas, and beliefs that can be found in micro-narratives, assessments, or journal entries. The quote "Attitudes are lead indicators, compliance is a lag indicator" refers to the tendency of attitudes to change long before the more rigid aspects of a system, such as rules, do. The tracking of attitudes, therefore, enables far more timely, flexible, and appropriate interventions. The discovery of discrepancy between those two aspects, attitudes and rules or regulations, can be an early warning signal of a coming shift. One of the goals of attitudinal mapping is to strike a balance between the key influence of attitudes while avoiding static and individual-based approaches to change. Attitudinal mapping is especially important in the areas of introducing change (organisational or societal), compliance, and managing behaviour.

An example of an attitude map created from SenseMaker micro narratives. The coloured groups indicate similarity in attitudes. The groups indicate a possible path in shifting attitudes by focusing on adjacent clusters.

Name and history

This approaches recognises that attitudes are the result of multiple interactions over time (which is the definition of emergence) and not static characteristics. As such, they cannot be dictated, but they can be monitored and they can be influenced, primarily through action. SenseMaker helps us give a quantitative and visual aspect to attitudes that also allows their tracking over time, based on the self-interpretation of participants. Sense

Prior knowledge

No prior knowledge is essential, but familiarity with the basics of SenseMaker and the core concepts behind signifier design is very helpful.

Key frameworks, concepts, and principles


Preparing the ground is, perhaps, the most important step. Ask yourself why you want to map attitudes and how do you plan to follow up on the mapping and create a plan for wider dissemination and engagement. How are individuals going to be involved and how can the non-evaluative aspects of the method be used to stimulate engagement? Familiarisation with the basic principles of SenseMaker is essential, even when an off-the-shelf application or pulse is used. For a custom attitudinal assessment, pre-work is going to be needed in identifying the key elements and influences around attitudes and shaping those into a signification framework that is not guiding, evaluative, or gameable. In the absence of SenseMaker experience, targeted training or collaboration with an experienced practitioner might be needed.


SenseMaker is the optimal way of carrying out attitudinal mapping due to its distributed character, design privileging description and self-interpretation, and scaling capabilities. Attitudinal mapping is possible in all SenseMaker uses: in an Unsurvey it can be carried out on the basis on micro-narratives, in MassSense on the basis of situational assessment, and journaling and Genba are both ways of tracking the continuing evolution of attitudes over time. The process of signifier design or selection is crucial to attitudinal mapping, as the participant reveals underlying attitudes through the way they situate their interpretation in relation to the signifiers . An oblique approach that avoids directly citing "preferred" or desirable attitudes is essential to avoid gaming responses. Attitudinal mapping is followed (or, in a continuous approach, interlaced with) collective sense-making where attitudinal data and patterns are presented to people accompanied by the core question of "What can we do to create more stories like these, and fewer stories like those".

Do's and Don'ts


  • Repeat attitudinal mapping regularly or ideally apply it continuously to avoid the trap of a static approach. It is best to think of attitudinal mapping as an ongoing process rather than an one-off intervention.


  • Attitudes should not be confused with the idea of "mindset", which in many of its current uses is more linear and static.
  • Nudging, not yanking. Attitudes do not shift in response to requests for change attitudes, but through interaction with a changed environment.



Blog posts

Method card material

This material will be extracted for the method cards

Possible symbols or illustrations

Often illustrated through abstracted SenseMaker patterns, potentially depicted as landscape contours, either on a triad or on a canvas.

Front page description

Attitudes are lead indicators, compliance is a lag indicator

Back of card summary

Options for attitudinal mapping include presenting paradoxical situations for signification by all actors and presentation of differences for decision making. Periodic use of pulses allows for measurement of change of time (which can also be done with the GENBA version of the software). Data can be presented in a variety of forms to demonstrate change, but can also use SenseMaker® 's narrative landscapes, presented at the level of people’s authority/agency for change to enable vector based, self generated nudge based interventions.

How can it be used?

for diagnosis

Attitudinal mapping is an ideal step before and during any type of attempted change or intervention. By having a better idea of the attitudinal landscape a shift is taking place in, we can better design and direct actions, be mindful of dominant influences as well as aware of outlier attitudes, and select an appropriate direction of movement for intervention.

for analysis/understanding

An ongoing, or punctuated (through regular pulses, potentially using the Genba version of SenseMaker), use of attitudinal mapping can help create ongoing understanding of an evolving situation through multiple pairs of eyes, emphasising the collective view while revealing underlying attitudes, which are more sensitive indicators of change than compliance.

for intervention

As well as a part of intervention design, monitoring, and evolution, as described above, attitudinal mapping can also be used as a tool for crowdsourcing intervention ideas, offering the opportunity to associate attitudes with proposed intervention.

Method Properties - Ratings

Represented by symbols - interpretation/voting scales are: