What is a Mental Model

Essay by melp791University, Bachelor'sA-, March 2013

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Meeting a person for the first time, can either be a positive or negative experience and the way someone interacts with this person can also show both positive and negative behaviours. So the question is, how can mental models about a person's world, both aid them and also limit their perceptions when meeting a person for the first time. Through exploring how and why these perceptions can be assisted and limited, we can start to question the reasoning behind our mental models.

Mental Models

Throughout the years, academic literature has defined a mental model in many ways, however the best way to understand what a mental model is, is the deeply imbedded ways of thinking or even certain images, that trigger assumptions and generalisations, ultimately affecting the way a person responds too or behaves in the world, be it towards a person or a life situation (Senge 2006). A good example of a mental model is, the generalization that only rich people live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.

This generalisation may be true in some cases, but in other cases, other people may live there because they have lived their all their lives, and so, we can see this particular generalisation or "mental model" has not be thought through. Not questioning mental models, can often lead to false generalisations, this situation can also arise when meeting a person for the first time.

When meeting a person for the first time, our mental models can help us both understand and ultimately get along with the person or they can limit our perceptions, meaning we make assumptions or generalisations that eventually alter our perceptions about this person or how we act towards them. Very often, we see that we are not consciously aware of our mental models and the affects...