The 26 Mental Models That Will Make You a Wise Person

4 Mins read

Mental models are essential concepts that you can use to explain situations. It’s useful having some mental models on your mind to help you seek the truth, solve problems, and avoid bad decision-making.

Being wise is an attribute that describes unbiased people, solve problems, and make the right decisions. Learning some of these mental models that we will present to you will help you climb the wisdom ladder a little bit more quickly.

Without further ado, here are the most useful mental models. 

1 The Big Five Personality Traits

Many psychologists, like Jordan B. Peterson, adopt the Big Five Personality model. It’s the most used model in academia. The model divides the continuum of personality into five sections. The Big Five Personality types are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. A person might rank higher on some traits and lower and others. Usually, one trait is dominant, but people are prone to change.

2 Objectivity & Subjectivity

The quality of being objective is attributed to the truth independent of subjective biases. Subjectivity is the truth as interpreted by the individual mind. On the one hand, we have an objective truth that is external and exists in the world outside your mind. On the other hand, we have subjective truth that exists in our minds (can also be shared by others). 

3 Anecdotal Evidence vs. Empirical Evidence

Anecdotal evidence comes from stories that people tell. An example of that is eyewitness testimony in the court. Empirical evidence, on the other hand, is a result of applying the scientific method. 

4 The Scientific Method

The scientific method follows these steps: Observation/question, research, hypothesis, experimentation, data collection, analysis, and conclusion.

5 The Socratic Method 

This method is named after the Greek philosopher Socrates. To discover the truth, Socrates used this method in his dialogues with people. This method is a form of dialogue based on questions that evoke critical thinking and puts the underlying presuppositions under the spotlight.  

6 The Three Modes of Persuasion, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Introduced by Aristotle, the Modes of Persuasion are very useful in conversation. Ethos is the appeal to authority and credibility, Pathos is the appeal to emotion and empathy, and Logos is the appeal to reason and logic, using empirical evidence.      

7 The Map is Not the Territory

This is one of the most famous phrases in modern philosophy. It was coined by Alfred Korzybski, the pioneer of general semantics. The phrase essentially highlights the difference between our beliefs about the world and the world in its actuality. Another similar phrase by Robert Anton Wilson says, ‘the menu is not the meal.’ 

8 Black and White Thinking

Black and white thinking is a cognitive bias that distorts thinking. It happens when you go in your thinking directly to the extremes without seeing the grey areas. 

9 Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias happens when you accept and seek information only to confirm your prior beliefs.

10 Availability Bias

Availability bias happens when you base your opinions on recently acquired knowledge or information.

11 Authority Bias

Believing the opinions of someone only because they have authority is authority bias.

12 Straw Man

Making the other person’s argument weak by refuting a similar argument that was not actually advanced by that person.

13 Ad Hominem

Attacking the other person’s character, personality, or occupation instead of their argument.

14 Appeal to Emotion

Instead of arguing using logic, you try to appeal to emotions like fear and anger. Some politicians like to use this one a lot.

15 Slippery Slope

The slippery slope is essentially jumping to conclusions without having data that supports that. In other words, the slippery slope happens when you say that something will cause another thing without explaining the link of causality.

16 Bandwagon

The bandwagon bias happens when you appeal to the popularity of something even though it might not be good or correct. Just because everyone believes something, that doesn’t make it true. For example, people used to believe that Earth is the center of the universe. Apparently, it’s not.  

17 Imposter Syndrome

High achieving people tend to believe that they are frauds because they cannot internalize what they have achieved. Thus, they fear being exposed as imposters. 

18 Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is the opposite of the imposter syndrome, whereby unskilled people believe they are very talented and good at what they’re doing, while the fact is they are actually average or worse.

19 Spacing Effect

Learning is more efficient when spread over time, as opposed to trying to learn everything in one session.

20 Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect essentially tells us that initial small variables have big effects over time. The flip of a butterfly can cause a hurricane two years from now.

21 The Placebo Effect

In medicine, the placebo is a treatment that does nothing essentially, but it can make people feel better because they believe that that medicine will cure them. The fact is that it’s only psychological relief. It could be seen as a form of faith healing.

22 Loss Aversion

People prefer to avoid losses more than they want to have gained.

23 Meme

A meme is the smallest cultural unit or behavioral system that duplicates itself by passing from one individual’s mind to another’s through imitation. The root of the word is derived from ‘gene.’  

24 The Law of Entropy  

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that all complex systems are headed to a state of disorder and decay. The opposite is negative entropy. The process of life can be described as negative entropy.

25 Murphy’s Law

 Sooner or later, everything that you suspect will go wrong will do so. It’s a scary law!

26 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Introduced by Abraham Maslow, the hierarchy of needs is a pyramid of needs that motivate people. These are the needs, ordered from base to top, (1) physiological, (2) safety, (3) love/belonging, (4) self-esteem, and (5) self-actualization.

Once a person satisfies a need, they will seek to climb the hierarchy to the next level. When you fail to satisfy the first four levels, you may suffer from a psychological crisis.

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