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mental models

Tags: episteme

What is a mental model?

  • Originally traced back to Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development
  • Modern usage covers:
    1. Frameworks
      • Frameworks for decision making and for life
    2. Thinking tools
      • Tools and techniques for thinking, sometimes “rationality” research
        • i.e. ‘reasoning from first principles’, ‘avoiding cognitive bias’, etc
    3. Mental representations
      • Piaget’s orginal theory, internal representations of some problem domain
        • ‘tacit knowledge’ vs ‘explicit knowledge’, or technê vs epistêmê
      • Made through experience
  • https://fs.blog/mental-models/#what%5Fare%5Fmental%5Fmodels

Types of Mental Models

  • Descriptive models
    • How people actually think (biases)
  • Normative models
    • How people should think (probability theory)
  • Perscriptive models
    • What is needed to get people thinking from descriptive models to normative ones

Issues with mental models?

  • https://www.instapaper.com/read/1298804126
    • Mental models are confined to what people communicate, true expertise is built up via experience and practition
    • Framework mental models are always limited, overreliance misses signals
    • Thinking tools are best applied in the original domain, and can be transferred iff the contexts are very similar
      • Note taking in Astro is applicable to note taking in finance
    • Mental representations are difficult to communicate, and requires practice, emulation, or experience
      • Accents, sounding in a different language
    • Mental models are not a catchall, nor are they pokemon to collect
    • Is significant usefulness to thinking all things as systems, and each system has its rules. Figuring out the rules reaps the rewards.