Created date
Jun 15, 2022 06:01 AM
Mental Model
Decision Making
Please note that the following article is sourced from external sources and is being presented for informational purposes only.

Definition: What Are Mental Models?

Let’s start with a definition. What are mental models? A mental model is an explanation of how something works. The phrase “mental model” is an overarching term for any sort of concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind.
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 that you use to understand life, make decisions, and solve problems. Learning a new mental model gives you a new way to see the world—like Richard Feynman learning a new math technique.
Mental models are imperfect, but useful. There is no single mental model from physics or engineering, for example, that provides a flawless explanation of the entire universe, but the best mental models from those disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel to outer space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.”
The best mental models are the ideas with the most utility. They are broadly useful in daily life. Understanding these concepts will help you make wiser choices and take better actions. This is why developing a broad base of mental models is critical for anyone interested in thinking clearly, rationally, and effectively.

Mental Models Example

How to Train Your Brain to Think in New Ways – This article shares some useful examples of how mental models work (and how the right mental model can make a big difference).

The Big Mental Models

There are thousands of mental models, but the best ones apply broadly to life and are useful in a wide range of situations.
Of all the mental models humankind has generated throughout history, there are just a few dozen that you need to master to have a firm grasp of how the world works. To quote Charlie Munger, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.”
After many hours of research, I have sorted through more than 1,000 mental models and distilled them into a short list of the most important mental models for daily life.
I am only included the most important and useful mental models on this page. I have separated them out by industry below.

Mental Models in Business

  • Commitment and Consistency Bias
  • Surfing or “Riding the Wave”

Mental Models in Math and Engineering

  • Break Points

Mental Models in Science


Best Mental Models Books

Seeking Wisdom by Peter Bevelin
Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charles Munger
The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge
Want more? Browse my full list of the best business books.

All Mental Models Articles

This is a complete list of articles I have written on Mental Models. Enjoy!

Here are some of which I have gathered myself:
notion image
  1. Causes and Effect
      • Deduction
      • Induction
  1. Rule of 82
  1. Compound effect
  1. Flow chart
  1. Computational thinking
6. Scientific thinking
7. 吾日三省model
notion image
  1. The top-5 problem; constantly ask yourself “What are the top 5 most important problems you are solving? Why are you not working on them?”
  1. Position thinking
  1. The law of middle
  1. NLP
  1. Decision making
      • Occam Razor
      • Inverse Thinking (麥當勞理論)
      • Pro-con-hv-havent; 畫十字
      • Abraham Wald > People get wrong becuz of missing data
  1. Laws of diminishing return
  1. 5 why 5 so
  1. Position Thinking
  1. NLP
17. problem solving
notion image

General Thinking Concepts

1. The Map is not the Territory
2. Circle of Competence
3. First Principles Thinking
4. Thought Experiment
5. Second-Order Thinking
6. Probabilistic Thinking
7. Inversion
8. Occam’s Razor
9. Hanlon’s Razor


1. Permutations and Combinations
2. Algebraic Equivalence
3. Randomness
4. Stochastic Processes (Poisson, Markov, Random Walk)
5. Compounding
7. Churn
8. Law of Large Numbers
9. Bell Curve/Normal Distribution
10. Power Laws
12. Order of Magnitude


1. Scale
2. Law of Diminishing Returns
3. Pareto Principle
5. Chaos Dynamics (Butterfly Effect)
6. Preferential Attachment (Cumulative Advantage)
7. Emergence
8. Irreducibility
9. Tragedy of the Commons
10. Gresham’s Law
11. Algorithms
12. Fragility – Robustness – Antifragility
13. Backup Systems/Redundancy
14. Margin of Safety
15. Criticality
16. Network Effects
17. Via Negativa – Omission/Removal/Avoidance of Harm
18. The Lindy Effect
19. Renormalization Group
20. Spring-loading

Physical World

1. Laws of Thermodynamics
2. Reciprocity
3. Velocity
5. Activation Energy
6. Catalysts
8. Inertia
9. Alloying
10. Viscosity

The Biological World

1. Incentives
2. Cooperation (Including Symbiosis and Prisoner’s Dilemma)
3. Tendency to Minimize Energy Output (Mental & Physical)
4. Adaptation
5. Evolution by Natural Selection
6. The Red Queen Effect (Co-evolutionary Arms Race)
7. Replication
8. Hierarchical and Other Organizing Instincts
9. Self-Preservation Instincts
10. Simple Physiological Reward-Seeking
11. Exaptation
12. Ecosystems

Human Nature and Judgment

1. Trust
2. Bias from Incentives
3. Pavlovian Association
6. Denial
8. Representativeness Heuristic
10. Narrative Instinct
11. Curiosity Instinct
12. Language Instinct
13. First-Conclusion Bias
15. Relative Satisfaction/Misery Tendencies
16. Commitment & Consistency Bias
17. Hindsight Bias
19. Tendency to Overestimate Consistency of Behavior (Fundamental Attribution Error)
20. Influence of Stress (Including Breaking Points)
21. Survivorship Bias
22. Tendency to Want to Do Something (Fight/Flight, Intervention, Demonstration of Value, etc.)
23. Falsification / Confirmation Bias

Microeconomics and Strategy

1. Opportunity Costs
2. Creative Destruction
4. Specialization (Pin Factory)
5. Seizing the Middle
6. Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights
7. Double-Entry Bookkeeping
8. Utility (Marginal, Diminishing, Increasing)
9. Bottlenecks
10. Bribery
11. Arbitrage
13. Scarcity
14. Mr. Market

Military and War

1. Seeing the Front
2. Asymmetric Warfare
3. Two-Front War
4. Counterinsurgency
Mental model all in oneWhat is the meaning of Music?