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Mental Models

Mental models are psychological representations of real, hypothetical, or imaginary situations. Though easiest to conceptualize in terms of mental pictures of objects (eg, a DNA double helix or the inside of an internal combustion engine) mental models can also include "scripts" or processes and other properties beyond images. Mental models create differing expectations, which suggest different courses of action. For instance, when you walk into a fast-food restaurant, you are invoking a different mental model than when in a fancy restaurant. Based on this model, you automatically go to place your order at the counter, rather than sitting at a table and expecting a waiter to take your order.



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