30 mental models to add to your thinking toolbox - Deepstash
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“We all have mental models: the lens through which we see the world that drive our responses to everything we experience. Being aware of your mental models is key to being objective.”



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What are mental models?

To put it simply, mental models are a set of beliefs and ideas that we consciously or unconsciously form based on our experiences. They guide our thoughts and behaviours and help us understand life. They’re basically thinking tools—shortcuts for reasoning.


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How to use mental models

How to use mental models

Here are a few tips you can apply to master mental models, rather than being enslaved by them.

  • Be aware of your thinking by asking yourself provoking questions
  • Gather information to challenge your thinking with actual facts
  • Inquire into other people’s thinking and challenge their views
  • Resist jumping to conclusions and suspend your assumptions
  • Look for recurring thought patterns and unlearn them


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How to build your own mental models

  • Observe people. One great way to develop your own mental models is to find inspiration in people.
  • Take note of nature. Nature follows many rules that can apply to human decision making.
  • Ask for feedback. Ask a friend or a colleague to observe how you act and to help you identify behaviours that may not be obvious to you.

Don’t limit yourself to constructive mental models. You will observe mental models which you’d rather not reproduce.


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5 great books about mental models

If you want to read more about mental models, here are some books to further explore the topic. Not only I found these books useful, but I’ve seen them recommended over and over again on Hacker News and other places.


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Ness Labs provides content, coaching, courses and community to help makers put their minds at work. Apply evidence-based strategies to your daily life, discover the latest in neuroscience research, and connect with fellow curious minds.


I have always been fascinated by mental models. The same way scientists are looking for a theory of everything, I sometimes wonder if there is a universal theory of the mind. An all-encompassing, coherent framework that would fully explain and link together all aspects of our biology and psychology.

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