What are the best mental models

mental models

mental models, denote a form of analog representation of knowledge. The concept is based on the assumption that people represent structural and / or dynamic aspects of complex problem areas (e.g. structure and function of technical devices, inference-containing text descriptions) by building up model ideas that reflect the real-world facts and processes in question (e.g. functioning of an internal combustion engine, use of instructions for use) make it clear and allow for mental simulation. It is a framework for the representation of human knowledge whose strength lies in being able to take into account the holism, systematics and dynamics of everyday representations of complex facts. When examining mental models, it makes sense to distinguish between the following levels of description: a) problem area for which a mental model is being built (target system), b) mental model of the subject over the problem area (representation system) and c) conceptualizations of the Researcher on the mental models of the subjects he studied (theory system). Developing theoretical conceptualizations of mental models and testing them empirically is the goal of various approaches in the field of cognitive psychology (cognition), computer science and linguistics.
Since the beginning of the 1980s, various theoretical frameworks for mental models have been presented independently of one another (in the area of ​​dealing with complex technical systems and the logical reasoning). In particular, the Johnson-Laird approach was conceptually well developed and subjected to various empirical tests. Based on this propositional reasoning on the construction and evaluation of imaginary mental models (similar to the use of auxiliary diagrams) and is differentiated from approaches that assume conclusions as the syntactic manipulation of formal rules. Based on this concept and approaches to so-called Situation models In recent years there have been various uses of the concept of mental models in the study of processes of text comprehension. In particular, applications of the concept in the area of ​​the text-based structure of Spatial representations and text-based spatial inferences.


Johnson-Laird, P.N. (1983). Mental models. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.
Johnson-Laird, P.N. & Byrne, R.M.J. (1991). Deduction. Hove: Erlbaum.