Learnings Mental Models

The Lindy Effect: Embracing the Wisdom of Time


In the realm of decision-making, the Lindy Effect mental model suggests that the future life expectancy of certain ideas, technologies, or concepts is proportional to their current age. In other words, the longer something has existed, the longer it is likely to continue to exist. This concept has profound implications for decision-making processes as it challenges our tendency to prioritize the latest trends and novelties. Understanding the Lindy Effect can help us make more informed decisions and avoid falling prey to the allure of short-lived fads.

The Lindy Effect and Human Psychology

The Lindy Effect is rooted in human psychology and reflects our innate desire for stability and reliability. As social creatures, we tend to seek patterns and models that have stood the test of time. This psychological inclination is prevalent in various aspects of our day-to-day lives, from personal choices to business strategies and even public policy-making.

Examples of the Lindy Effect

  1. Personal Life Decisions: Consider the decision to invest in physical fitness. The Lindy Effect suggests that engaging in time-tested exercises and fitness regimens, such as running or weightlifting, is more likely to yield long-term health benefits compared to the latest fitness trends that come and go. By embracing enduring practices, individuals can make decisions that align with their long-term well-being.
  2. Business Scenarios: In business, the Lindy Effect can be observed in the dominance of established companies and industries. Well-established brands with decades of success, such as Coca-Cola or General Electric, have demonstrated resilience and adaptability over time. In contrast, short-lived startups or trendy business models are often more susceptible to failure. By recognizing the power of the Lindy Effect, decision-makers can prioritize strategies and investments with proven track records.
  3. Public Policy-Making: The Lindy Effect is relevant in the realm of public policy. Policies and institutions that have been in place for extended periods are more likely to withstand the test of time and serve as reliable foundations for societal progress. By valuing the wisdom accumulated over generations, policymakers can avoid hasty changes driven by transient ideologies and prioritize the preservation of institutions that have proven their efficacy.

Mental Biases and Underpinnings

Several cognitive biases contribute to the misinterpretation of the Lindy Effect. The “recency bias” leads individuals to overvalue recent information or trends, assuming that they hold greater significance and longevity. Additionally, the “availability heuristic” makes us more likely to rely on easily accessible information, often overlooking the cumulative wisdom derived from extended periods of existence.

Identifying and Avoiding the Lindy Effect

To avoid succumbing to the Lindy Effect fallacy, it is crucial to cultivate awareness and adopt objective decision-making strategies:

  1. Historical Analysis: Engage in historical analysis to evaluate the track record and longevity of ideas, concepts, or practices. Consider their historical resilience and how they have fared over time. Prioritize the tried and tested over fleeting novelties.
  2. Longevity Assessment: Assess the likelihood of longevity by considering the fundamental principles or enduring qualities of a particular idea, technology, or concept. Focus on its inherent value and relevance rather than its current popularity.
  3. Critical Evaluation: Engage in critical evaluation by questioning assumptions and challenging prevailing trends. Consider the potential long-term consequences of decisions and resist the allure of short-term gains or the fear of missing out.


The Lindy Effect offers a valuable mental model for decision-making by emphasizing the significance of time-tested ideas, concepts, and practices. By recognizing and avoiding the biases that lead us astray, we can make more informed choices that align with long-term outcomes. Embracing the wisdom accumulated over time empowers individuals and organizations to navigate uncertainty and make decisions that are more likely to stand the test of time.

Throughout history, the Lindy Effect has proven to be a powerful guiding principle, and by applying it consciously, we can optimize our decision-making processes and achieve greater success. Let us embrace the enduring and timeless to shape a more resilient future.

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