Chapter 5 Identifying sub-determinants

To identify sub-determinants, you can use a Matrix of Aspects of Psychology (MAP). This is a table where you collect and later organize all the aspects of people’s psychology that might be important. In this phase, you don’t select them yet - you just add everything into the MAP.

MAPs are specified in a spreadsheet format with five worksheets. It’s set up in a specific way - you can copy one we prepared for you at Google Sheets here. If you prefer to have it on your local device, you can download it in Microsoft Excel or OpenDocument Calc format.

5.1 MAP spreadsheet set-up

The first worksheet is called MAP and contains the Matrix of Aspects of Psychology itself. It has 11 columns, from left to right:

  • target_behavior_id: the identifier for the target behavior
  • subbehavior_id: the identifier for the sub-behavior
  • aspect_id: the identifier for the aspect
  • aspect_label: a human-readable label for the aspect
  • aspect_source_id: the identifier for the source the aspect came from
  • determinant_id: the identifier of the determinant
  • decision: the decision re: what to do with the aspect
  • merged_into_aspect_id: if the aspect is merged with another, the identifier of the remaining aspect
  • co_formulation: for selected aspects, a reformulation according to the Change Objective guide
  • justification_label: a human-readable label expressing the justification for the decision
  • justification_source_ids: the identifier for the source the aspect came from

The target behaviors, sub-behaviors, determinants, and source sare defined in dedicated worksheets.

The target_behaviors worksheet has two columns:

  • target_behavior_id: The unique identifier for the target behavior
  • target_behavior_label: A human-readable label for the target behavior

The subbehaviors worksheet has three columns:

  • subbehavior_id: The unique identifier for the sub-behavior
  • subbehavior_label: A human-readable label for the sub-behavior
  • target_behavior_id: The unique identifier for the target behavior this sub-behavior is a part of

The determinants worksheet has three columns:

  • determinant_id: The unique identifier for the determinant
  • determinant_label: A human-readable label for the determinant
  • dct_id: The unique construct identifier (UCID) for the determinant

The sources worksheet has six columns:

  • source_id: The unique identifier for the source
  • source_title: The title of the source (e.g. article title etc)
  • source_date: The date the source was published (e.g. year)
  • source_authors: The authors of the source
  • source_doi: If available, the DOI of the source
  • source_url: If available, a URL pointing to the source

5.2 Using the MAP

The MAP was designed to combine a number of needs that you have in the early stages of thinking about (sub-)determinants. On the one hand, you want to brainstorm and just collect as much information as possible, without having to think about how exactly it fits in the bigger picture. Therefore, the only column you really need to complete to add aspects to the MAP is column D. If the aspect originates from a source (e.g. a publication, an interview, an expert meeting), you can specify that source in column E. In addition, you can specify a unique identifier for every aspect in column C.

However, a second need is to organize this information: specify, for each aspect, which (sub-)determinant it represents (column F) and which (sub-)behavior it pertains to (columns A and B). This can require some reflection and discussion, so you can do this later, and it can be useful to do it with a team or at least two people to have somebody to spar with.

A third need is to merge duplicate aspects and to decide what to do with the resulting aspects. Sometimes you’re certain you want to select them for further study (or, if you don’t have resources to do determinant studies, for the intervention); sometimes you’re certain you want to forgo addressing them (e.g. if you have reason to believe they’re not relevant); and sometimes you want to defer the decision. You can indicate this decision in column G. If you decide to merge the aspect into another aspect (e.g. if they’re duplicates), you can indicate the identifier of the other aspect in column H. If you select an aspect, you can reformulate it into a change objective in column I. And you can justify your decision, and link to a source of that justification, in columns J and K.

Because of this structure of the spreadsheet, if you want to specify something in columns A, B, E, F, G, or H, you first have to specify the relevant behaviors, sub-behaviors, sources, or determinants in the corresponding spreadsheets.

A common workflow is to start just listing anything that might be important in column D. You can consider this like a piece of draft paper - just enthusiastically fill it with whatever you come across as you brainstorm, read, and talk to people.

Then, when you have some time, start organising this information by thinking about the determinants and (sub-)behaviors these aspects relate to.

Finally, get together with the project team and/or stakeholders and decide for each one what you’ll do.

At that point, you’ll have a fully documented set of decisions and justifications that you can refer to later on. The aspects that are selected carry on into the next step.