🧠Mental Models —And how they help🚀

Our method of teaching life skills via gamification involves using mental models as the core of the games that we’ve developed. Here’s an article on what exactly are mental models and how they can help your child grow exponentially.

What are mental models?

Mental models are frameworks to understand how the world works. They help us simplify complex connections that exist in the real world. It provides us with a lens to see the world around us, process information, and make decisions based on them. They essentially are any organized pattern which helps anyone comprehend information and solve problems.

It can even be just a concept you can use to help try to explain things. There are tens of thousands of mental models, and every discipline has their own set which you can learn.

The best mental models are the ideas with the most utility. They are broadly useful in daily life. Understanding mental models 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.


The term mental model is believed to have originated with Kenneth Craik in his 1943 book The Nature of Explanation.

Philip Johnson-Laird published Mental Models: Towards a Cognitive Science of Language, Inference and Consciousness in 1983. In the same year, Dedre Gentner and Albert Stevens edited a collection of chapters in a book also titled Mental Models.

Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. — a conglomerate holding company that owns such companies as Geico, Dairy Queen, and Helzberg Diamonds, in his famous speech —

popularized the use of multi-disciplinary mental models for making business and investment decisions. He once said that “developing the habit of mastering the multiple models which underlie reality is the best thing you can do.”

Types of mental models

Even though there are thousands of mental models across various disciplines, there some concepts that come up repeatedly in day-to-day decision making, problem solving, and truth seeking. They can be broadly divided into the following categories

  • Core Thinking Concepts- Eg. — The Map is Not the Territory, Circle of Competence, First Principles Thinking, Thought Experiment, Second-Order Thinking, Probabilistic Thinking, Inversion
  • Physics and Chemistry– Eg. — Relativity, Reciprocity, Thermodynamics, Inertia, Friction and Viscosity, Velocity, Leverage, Activation Energy, Catalysts, Alloying etc.
  • Biology- Eg. — Evolution Part One: Natural Selection and Extinction, Evolution Part Two: Adaptation and The Red Queen Effect Ecosystems, Niches, Self-Preservation etc.
  • Systems — Eg. — Feedback, Loops, Equilibrium, Bottlenecks, Scale Margin of Safety ,Churn, Algorithms, Critical mass, Emergence, Irreducibility, Law of Diminishing Returns
  • Numeracy- Eg. — Compounding, Sampling, Randomness, Regression to the Mean, Multiplying by Zero, Equivalence, Surface Area, Global and Local Maxima
  • Microeconomics- Eg. — Opportunity Costs, Creative Destruction, Comparative Advantage, Specialization (Pin Factory), Seizing the Middle, Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights, Double-Entry Bookkeeping
  • Military and War- Eg. — Seeing the Front, Asymmetric Warfare, Two-Front War, Counterinsurgency, Mutually Assured Destruction
  • Human Nature and Judgment- Eg. — Trust, Bias from Incentives, Pavlovian Association, Tendency to Feel Envy & Jealousy, Tendency to Distort Due to Liking/Loving or Disliking/Hating, Denial, Availability Heuristic, Representativeness Heuristic, Social Proof (Safety in Numbers), Narrative
  • Models in Rule of Law- Eg. — Common law, Good faith, Negligence, Precedents, due process, Duty of care
  • Models in Thinking- Eg. — Decision trees, Probabilistic Thinking Second order thinking, Bayesian Updating, Bloom’s taxonomy, Circle of competence

Mental models in each discipline can help in making links between what one knows and what one wants to explore. They can help anyone to plan with the end in mind: one must clarify what they will be exploring, identify what they already know, and develop links between the two.

If we can can learn how to apply mental models in real life situations, we’ll be able to effectively and efficiently utilize the resources around us. To be able to apply mental models in one’s daily lives, one requires a lot of practice, testing, and development in the methods in which it can be used.

Check out our blog on Gamified education —

and Benefits of simulation based learning —

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