What Do Probability Judgements and Jury Reasoning Tell Us About the Role of Mental Models in Decision Making?

Essay by PaczekUniversity, Bachelor's March 2010

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Mental models are types of internal representations of the external reality assumed to play an essential role in cognition and decision making. Once these mental models are formed they carefully substitute considered analysis as a way of conserving time and energy. According to theories of mental models, it is said that we accumulate all our perceived stimulation and observations into our memories in forms of models, which are intended on basic sensory information and later on combined with previously stored information.

The thought behind individuals relying on mental models relates back to Kenneth Craik's (1943) suggestion that the mind builds a "small scale model" of reality that it applies to anticipate events. Mental models are explanations of people's thought process on how things work in the real world. They are representations of the surrounding world, relationships between its various elements and a person's intuitive perspective regarding their personal acts along with the consequences.

He also suggested that humans develop internal models through interaction (external events) and emphasizes the structural aspect of the models.

These mental models guide us in shaping our behaviour and identifying our approach to problem solving. However, Craik (1943) mentions little regarding the construction, content and modification of the models as he bases his discussion on the foundation that symbolic models are used for reasoning.

This essay will examine the extent to which probability judgements and jury reasoning explain the function of mental models when making a decision.

The mental model theory has been widely examined and the experiments conducted have displayed various signs towards the use of mental models that are applied to reasoning. Experimental evidence has shown that the larger the proportion of mental models that a task requires, the greater the compound of ones' mental model; therefore, making it harder to reason,