List of Mental Models

What is a Mental Model?

We live in a physical world but can perceive it only in our minds.  When we think about the world and try to explain our thoughts about it, we use mental models.  Mental models are our internal representations of the world around us, of the relationships between different parts of the world, and of our actions and their consequences.

When I started my legal career as a new lawyer fresh out of law school, I thought I had the cognitive and analytical tools to succeed in the profession simply from going to law school.  Over time, I realized that I was ignorant about the mental models that could help me develop keener insight and understanding in business and life.  Once I found the work of Daniel Kahneman and Charlie Munger describing these ideas as something you could learn and improve, I was hooked.
Charlie Munger refers to a “latticework of about 100 mental models” that he and Warren Buffett credit for their successful investing. I’m fascinated by these models, and their application to business and life, and decided to keep an evolving, organic list of mental models that I’ve found helpful.
My introduction to mental models is here.

Cognitive Biases

Anchoring Bias

Association Bias

Confirmation Bias

Consistency Bias / Tendency

Halo Effect


Reason Respect / Trust

Recency Bias

Self-Interest / Incentive Bias

Self-serving Bias

Self-deception and Wishful Thinking

Behavioral Models

Complex Adaptive Systems

Crowd Folly

Deprival Syndrome

“Do Something” Syndrome

Emotional Arousal

Envy / Jealousy

Feedback Loops

Impatience / Overvaluing Present

Memory Limitations

Pareto Law / 80-2o Principle

Persian Messenger Syndrome

Reciprocation Tendency

Red Queen Effect

Rewards and Punishment – Law of power

Status Quo Bias

Stress Impact


Judgment Models

Authority Bias / Reliance

Base Rate Neglect

“Boiling Frog” / Distortion of Contrast Comparison


Law of Small Numbers

Loss Aversion v. Risk Aversion

Meta-cognition / System 1 and 2

Narrative Fallacy / Sensemaking / Hindsight

Prisoner’s Dilemma

Regression to the Mean

Sunk Cost Fallacy


I’ll continue to update this list as I discover new mental models.  As I write posts about any of these describing them in more detail, I’ll add links as well.