How people think


People have certain belief structures – philosophically called paradigms, but psychologically we refer to it as mental models. Mental models function as a form of heuristic – a kind of shortcut – that helps us make sense of the world. (The alternative is that we’d be swamped by millions of stimuli.) Every belief is a mental model, every prejudice is a mental model, and every bit of ‘understanding’ is a mental model. When you read a book, you effectively recreate a whole world inside your head. That recreation is not reality – it is your reality though.


In a reality dominated by the mind, the understanding of human psychology is a powerful tool. If we think in models, then understanding models will provide great insight into the way we think.


Off the top of your head, try to answer how many windows you have in your home. Don’t know? How would you try to answer this more thoughtfully? Most likely, you’d imagine your home and in your mind you’d walk through the various rooms and count all the windows.


What you did is you built a mental model for the purpose of this problem, based on your previously stored mental model of your home. Through interacting with it, you solved the problem to some degree of accuracy based on how well you remember your home. For most that shouldn’t be hard. You’ve stored and reinforced that model with every step in the actual thing.


People are overwhelmed by information and information must be presented in such a way that enough options and information not to feel threatened and limited in an obvious way not too many that will overwhelm them.


A persuader may observe to a prospect that “good quality costs a bit more” to justify a premium price. This is a very simple way where the persuader emphasizes an existing mental model that most people would have.