The Human Operating Manual

Mental Models

Let’s be honest, most people don’t know what mental models are, let alone how to use them on a daily basis. If you do happen to have the slightest inclination as to what we are about to discuss, you’ll understand how useful mental models can potentially be for increasing mental efficiency and for improving your ability to regulate emotions. The caveat being that you won’t automatically utilize mental models just by understanding them. The great thing about mental models is that understanding them isn’t really important as we already automatically use them.    

“A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks.” – Shane Parrish (Farnam Street creator)

As Shane so expertly defines above, we can use mental models to simplify complex ideas, for the purpose of creating a more manageable version of the idea in question. An excellent way of reducing cognitive load and to enable a greater capacity to explore ideas with a different perspective. 

An interesting group of mental models, most commonly referred to in psychology, are heuristics. Heuristics are also mental shortcuts that our brains construct for improved mental efficiency. Unfortunately, in most cases they are not necessarily accurate nor optimal. We have a bunch of classically predetermined heuristics and biases which we use on a day to day basis, that tend to fill us with false confidence, based on brief past experiences. We will touch on the different types of heuristics and mental models in the following sections.

By learning about heuristics we are better prepared to catch ourselves when we are biased or using nonoptimal heuristics. Also, by learning to create and understand mental models we are better able to carry concepts of a greater scale. Click one of the links below to find out more.  

Choose Your Own

Heuristics Basics (To Be Completed)

What heuristics are and how we use them more than we realize.

Mental Model Basics (To Be Completed)

Why mental models are and how to utilize them for efficient lifestyle design.

Brain 2.0 (To Be Completed)

Utilizing technology to build an auxiliary brain.

Mental Model Cheatsheet (To Be Completed)

A comprehensive list of mental models and heuristics.

The Mental Model Rabbit Hole (To Be Completed)

Follow us down into the depths of the heuristics research rabbit hole.

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