Last Updated on October 20, 2021

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What is a mental model?

I remember hearing mental models described as “apps for your brain” which I thought was a fun definition. The term is often used as a catch-all to cover any concept/principle/framework that you can hold as a mental representation of an external reality. A mental model can also be thought of as a tool for thinking – to help you understand or explain something. 

Why study mental models?

Learning new mental models helps you think better.

It gives you a box of thinking tools that help with your judgement and your decision making.I’m super keen to improve my decision making and I believe that mental models have started to help me make decisions more clearly.

But hey, don’t just take my word for it –  celebrated thinkers such as Charlie Munger, Elon Musk, and Ray Dalio give lots of credit to mental models.

Take it from Munger

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department … you’ve got to have models across a fair array of disciplines.

Or take it from Dalio

Those who understand more of them and understand them well know how to interact with the world more effectively than those who know fewer of them or know them less well.

Munger suggested that learning 80 or 90 key models “will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly-wise person.”

I’m going to assume he’s right, which means we can build wisdom by adding to our own personal internal repository of mental models.

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