Pervasive and Powerful Mental Models
Derek Cabrera, PhD
Derek Cabrera (PhD, Cornell) is an internationally known systems scientist and serves on the faculty of Cornell University where he teaches systems thinking, systems leadership, and systems mapping and is Program Director for the Graduate Certification Program in Systems Thinking, Modeling, and Leadership (STML). He is a senior scientist at Cabrera Research Lab. He’s authored 8 books including, Systems Thinking Made Simple and Flock Not Clock.
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One of the things I find in our efforts to promote public understanding of science and systems thinking is that people have a hard time realizing the ubiquity, pervasiveness, and importance of mental models. These things we call mental models are ever-present and always influencing us. For more see reality bias.
A few ways we have been successful in helping people to see how ever-present mental models are is to make it somewhat light and fun but also giving serious examples to back them up.
Birdbox Studio did a video that is one of the best examples of the ubiquitous and pervasive nature of mental models I have ever found, and, it's funny:
We wanted to capture Birdbox's brilliance in a static version for folks who don't have the time or the medium to watch it. So, we created this comic strip:
Make no mistake about it, our mental models are pervasive and powerful things. Check out these cows. Their [false] mental model actually alters their behavior.