What do you mean by the term mental model?

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"Thompson, James. P (Jim) A142"
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What do you mean by the term mental model?

Post by "Thompson, James. P (Jim) A142" »

I would be interested to learn what practitioners of system dynamics mean by
the term mental model. If you refer to a written authority, I would
appreciate learning what your reference source is.
Thanks,
Jim Thompson
jim.thompson@cigna.com
Tel. 860.226.8607

"Prof. Dr. Niall Palfreyman"
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What do you mean by the term mental model?

Post by "Prof. Dr. Niall Palfreyman" »

3

"Thompson, James. P (Jim) A142" schrieb:

> I would be interested to learn what practitioners of system dynamics mean by
> the term mental model. If you refer to a written authority, I would
> appreciate learning what your reference source is.

Kenneth Craik ("The Nature of Explanation", 1943) says: "By a model we thus mean
any physical or chemical system which has a similar relation-structure to that
of the processes it imitates... If the organism carries a small-scale model of
external reality and of its own possible actions within its head, it is able to
try out various alternatives, conclude which is the best of them, react to
future situations before they arise, utilise the knowledge of past events in
dealing with the present and future, and in every way to react in a much fuller,
safer, and more competent manner to the emergencies which face it."

I regard the term "mental model" in Craiks positive, useful sense. Weighed
against this, however, is the constructivist standpoint that we can never prove
the truth of our models, but rather only the falseness of them when they dont
work. This leads then to the rather negative view of models in, for example,
"The Fifth Discipline", in which we are warned not to believe too strongly in
the "truth" of our models, lest they lead us astray. Needless to say, I also
agree with this warning. So the name of the game is therefore to use my models
as much as possible in the hope that they will be useful, but also in the hope
that they will one day fail, and so give me the chance to develop them to even
greater usefulness.

Cheers,
Niall Palfreyman.
From: "Prof. Dr. Niall Palfreyman" <
niall.palfreyman@fh-weihenstephan.de>

Bill Braun
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Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Mar 29, 2002 3:39 am

What do you mean by the term mental model?

Post by Bill Braun »

6

At 09:02 AM 11/20/2003 -0500, you wrote:
>I would be interested to learn what practitioners of system dynamics mean by
>the term mental model. If you refer to a written authority, I would
>appreciate learning what your reference source is.

Jim,

I most commonly refer to information that is filtered, which leads to
incomplete information, and information that is added which is not really
there, which leads to inaccurate information. I then ask students to
inquire into the quality of their decisions when they are based on
incomplete, inaccurate information. This leads to the conversation on
suspending mental models, usually in the context of Senges point about
mental models as obstacles to learning.

Bill Braun
From: Bill Braun <medprac@hlthsys.com>

=?iso-8859-1?Q?Andr=E9_Reichel?=
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What do you mean by the term mental model?

Post by =?iso-8859-1?Q?Andr=E9_Reichel?= »

0

Hi Jim,

in a wider sense I would regard a "mental model" as a map of the world made up from and in front of our cognitive structures.
These structures are twofold:
(1) They are based on past experiences on the world and assumptions about how and why it works in the way it does. This is a construct (or approximation) of something we regard as reality.
(2) The cognitive structures have a phylogenetical background, they are the products of human evolution. Therefore, they enclose a certain a priori (non-individual, non-empirical) knowledge about the world in which the homo sapiens developed.

The first aspect of cognitives structures is clearly constructivist and the usual sources would include Humberto Maturana, Francisco Varela, Heinz von Foerster, John Richards and Ernst von Glaserfeld. The second aspect points towards an evolutionary epistemology from the likes of Konrad Lorenz, Manfred Eigen, Gregory Bateson and John Eccles.


André Reichel
From: ÿso-8859-1?Q?André_Reichel?ÿreichel@sofo.uni-stuttgart.de>
_______________________________________

Universität Stuttgart
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70174 Stuttgart

Telefon: 0711 / 121 - 3550
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"Brian (Bo) Newman"
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What do you mean by the term mental model?

Post by "Brian (Bo) Newman" »

3

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At 09:02 AM 11/20/2003 Jim Thompson wrote:<br>
<blockquote type=cite class=cite cite>I would be interested to learn what
practitioners of system dynamics mean by<br>
the term mental model.  If you refer to a written authority, I
would<br>
appreciate learning what your reference source is.</blockquote><br>
Jim, <br>
Might I suggest, if you havent done so already, that you check Ruth
Byrnes page on Mental Models.<br>
<a href="
http://www.tcd.ie/Psychology
uth_Byrne/mental_models/index.html" eudora="autourl">http://www.tcd.ie/Psychology
uth_Byrne/mental_models/index.html</a>
-- Clearly representing the Craik perspective. <br>
Follow the link for "publications" and I think you should find some of what you are after -- probably more. <br><br>
As for myself, as part of my work on knowledge flow theories,  I have been treating mental models as one of many types of specific networks of concepts, held within the memory of an agent, and applied, as a unit, as one of a number of knowledge sources enabling that agents actions and decision.  I use the term agent to include individual, automated, and collective agents. <br><br>
As evidenced by Byrnes list of articles, much has been written on how mental models are formed, and how they are used. However, this "ontological" perspective has allowed me to start to formalize the rolls that mental models, like value systems and other operative ontologies, play in the dynamics of knowledge flows. From a systems dynamics perspective (and that being an example of what I would call a mental model held by a collective agent and the individuals therein), mental models would serve
as a gating and flow control mechanisms within the knowledge flows that support multi-agent behaviors.  This all premised by the basic axiom that knowledge enables the actions and decisions of agents. <br><br>
I am also of the belief, although I have not worked through the proofs, that this ontological perspective would rationalize both the  "positive" and "negative" views as espoused by Craik and Senge respectively. <br><br>
<br>
I hope this helps.<br><br>
Regards --<br>
From: "Brian (Bo) Newman" bo.newman@km-forum.org <br>

<a href="http://www.3-cities.com/~bonewman/">Brian (Bo) Newman</a><br>
<a href="http://www.km-forum.org/">The KMForum</a></body>
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