Mental models

What are mental models?

Mental models are the the models we build up of how the world works in order to interact with the world in a more efficient manner. These models can come from our perceptions and imagination – and give us a reference to how physical things or abstract interactions work.

Prof. Ruth Byrne, in her gentle introduction to mental models, likens mental models to architect’s models or physicists’ diagrams. These models and diagrams are an analogy to the structure they represent, and make it easier for decisions and interpretations to be made.

Kern communications ties mental models into systems thinking, making the link between product design and user’s mental models about how a product will function.

Mental models, belief systems, or whatever you call them, have a huge impact on how we act in the present moment. We encounter so much information, we need our models in order to get on with our lives, and not be paralyzed trying to interpret every new situation.