What is a Mental Model?
What are mental models? A mental model is a framework or theory that helps to explain why the world works the way it does. Each mental model is a concept that helps us make sense of the world and offers a way of looking at the problems of life.
Many of the most important mental models are the big ideas in each of the major academic disciplines—biology, chemistry, physics, economics, mathematics, psychology, philosophy. For example, some of the big ideas in economics include Comparative Advantage, Incentives, and Scarcity. Each one is a mental model. Thus, the phrase “mental model” is an overarching term for any sort of framework that helps us understand life.
There are thousands of mental models, but the best ones apply broadly to life and are useful in a wide range of situations. After many hours of research, I have simplified my list of mental models down from over 900 to a few dozen that carry most of the weight in life. You can find my articles on those mental models below.
Best Mental Models Books
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!
- Entropy: Why Life Always Seems to Get More Complicated
- Inversion: The Crucial Thinking Skill Nobody Ever Taught You
- A Margin of Safety: How to Thrive in the Age of Uncertainty
- All Models Are Wrong, Some Are Useful
- How to Spot a Common Mental Error That Leads to Misguided Thinking
- Elon Musk and Bill Thurston on the Power of Thinking for Yourself
- Mental Models: How Intelligent People Solve Unsolvable Problems