6 Amazing Mental Models Driving Society

Great Mental Models Driving Society & Moving Culture.

Mental Models are the building blocks of our knowledge. Whether they are applicable to investing, life, or like the following 6 examples, society, applying them and noticing them in your life will make you smarter.

These are 6 Mental Models driving society.

Halo Effect

The Halo Effect is the false bias of assumed characteristics.

When someone identifies an agreeable characteristic in someone… say for example, they recycle 100% of their waste.

We are likely to go on to assume additional agreeable characteristics in that person. Such as, they must also be very progressive, they must also decent, etc. Whereas, (for my American readers), if someone walks into your office wearing a MAGA hat you are likely to go on and assume many additional characteristics of this person.

Whether they are positive or negative depends on your own Halo Effect – the false bias of assumed characteristics.

Hanlon’s Razor

‘We should not attribute to malice, that which can be more easily explained by stupidity’

A steady dose of Hanlon’s Razor in our day to day might mitigate much of the noise that dominates our life.

Nirvana Fallacy

Condemning something simply because it compares unfavourably with the ideal of the alternative… even though that ideal is in reality, unattainable.

The most readily available example of the Nirvana Fallacy is in the Capitalism/Socialism debate.

Each side will insist their ideal is superior, and not because of their idea’s individual merit, but because of the unrealistic ideal of the alternative. The Capitalist bull will insist the one thing stopping the world from its potential utopia is the inefficiency and corruption of government. Whereas, the Socialist bull will insist the one thing stopping the world from its potential utopia is the corruption and absence of more government.

Whether either side has merit is not important for the Nirvana Fallacy, since each argument hinges upon the unrealistic utopia the other side promises.

Concept Creep

This applies most readily to the concepts of sexism and racism.

Concept Creep occurs when a concept is stretched to include milder, subtler, or less extreme phenomena than those to which they referred at an earlier time.

The pool of possible actions said to be ‘racist’ in 2020 is significantly larger than the equivalent pool of 2010 and predictably smaller, than the pool of 2030.

Espousing that ‘all lives matter‘ became a racist statement in 2020… can we agree that in the 1950’s that was not considered racist?

Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect essentially explains our cognitive bias in assessing our competence as being better than it is. Particularly when tackling something new.

We are all more incompetent than we think, and as Dunning and Kruger observed in 1999…

Your initial incompetence, and inability to understand just how incompetent you are, makes you more incompetent.


Subselves or The Persona

Whether you like to admit it or not, and whether you consciously notice it or not… there are different you’s.

There is an office ‘you’, a boyfriend ‘you’, a mate ‘you’, a son ‘you’ a stranger ‘you’ and so on.

We use different behavioural processes in different situations. Meaning we are not a singular character, but rather, multiple characters.

The difference between these ‘you’ types are of course, extremely subtle. After all, we are not psychopathic. At least, most of us aren’t.

The persona is the mask through which we interact with society. It is the personality we portray onto others.

“Fundamentally the persona is nothing real, it is a compromise between an individual and society as to what a man should appear to be”

Carl Jung

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