What are mental models? A mental model is an explanation of how something works. The term “mental model” is an overarching term for any kind of concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your head.
Mental models help you understand life. For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand how the economy works. Game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work. Entropy is a mental model that helps you understand how disorder and decay work.
Mental models also guide your perception and behavior. They are the thinking tools you use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Learning a new mental model gives you a new way of seeing the world – like Richard Feynman, who learned a new mathematical technique.
Mental models are imperfect, but useful. For example, there is no single mental model from physics or engineering that explains the entire universe flawlessly, but the best mental models from these disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel into space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. The true test of knowledge, then, is not truth, but utility.“
The best mental models are the ideas with the greatest utility. They are of great use in daily life. When you understand these concepts, you can make smarter decisions and act better. That’s why developing a broad base of mental models is critical for anyone who wants to think clearly, rationally, and effectively.
Interrupt to remember
Method of Loci