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It’s called status quo bias and you can learn it in two minutes

This mental model originated in the field of psychology and behavioral economics. It’s a particularly crucial mental model for those of us interested in innovation, or anything that involves effecting change in ourselves, or in others. Read on to learn it now. 🧠

What is status quo bias?

Status quo bias is the human tendency towards wanting things stay the same, and to perceive any change to the status quo as a loss.

Researchers have found we have a tendency to prefer to keep the current state of affairs as it is, and a reluctance to take any action that will change this state. …

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It’s an important mental model well worth learning

Introducing anchoring — a crucial mental model from the discipline of psychology that is very relevant in your professional life, but also your personal life. Once you’re familiar with this one, you might just start to notice it everywhere! ⚓

What is Anchoring?

Anchoring is a cognitive bias that describes the tendency for an individual to rely too heavily on an initial piece of information offered (known as the “anchor”) when making decisions.

So what does that mean in practice? There’s one study I like in particular that illustrates the phenomenon of anchoring quite nicely.

Researchers split a bunch of people into two groups, and then asked them to estimate the age of the the famous activist Mahatma Gandhi. Each group was asked the question in a different way (or with a different anchor.) …

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Photo by Carson Arias

Learn it in a few minutes with this quick and easy summary

This post covers a mental model that is one of the most pervasive biases of human life — confirmation bias.

What is Confirmation Bias?

Confirmation bias is our tendency to interpret things in a way that suits our preconceptions.

If I were to ask you “where is the nearest apple store?”

What comes into your mind?









If I know my audience, I bet that a few of you would think of this:

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Learn this mental model in just a few minutes

If you harbor the desire to have some idea what others mean when they mention entropy (or maybe even use it in a sentence yourself) — read on! Entropy is a mental model well worth learning.

What is entropy?

Entropy is a concept from physics that initially stemmed from some ideas a guy called Rudolf Clausius had around thermodynamic processes.

The purists may hate me for this, but I’m going to really simplify the concept so that we can cover it in this short post. …

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Learn what it is and why it matters…

A fallacy generally refers to the results of some illogical reasoning. The straw man fallacy has to be one of the best named of all the fallacies! You’ll want to learn this mental model so you can listen out for it… 👂

What is The Straw Man Fallacy?

The straw man fallacy occurs over a few stages:

  1. Person one states their argument.
  2. Person two takes that argument and then offers a different or distorted version (or “straw man”) of it.
  3. Person two then proceeds to tear down that new version of the argument.
  4. Person two claims victory!

As you can see, the straw man argument is constructed (sometimes intentionally) in order to give the appearance of having actually refuted the original argument. However a straw man argument is illogical because it doesn’t actually address the original argument — instead it addresses some kind of misrepresented or exaggerated version. Being on the receiving end can be highly frustrating! …

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Photo: David Dibert

Learn what it is, and why it matters!

Here’s a new mental model for you - cognitive reframing. It’s a fantastic concept from the discipline of psychology that is useful to apply both in personal and professional situations! 🧠

What is cognitive reframing?

Cognitive reframing is a deceptively simple idea. It’s just looking at a given situation in a different way — or putting it in a new “frame” which could be more useful. (A frame in this sense is the complex set of your ideas, beliefs, value which are used to infer meaning on a situation.)

Reframing can be extremely helpful in problem solving and decision making. …

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It’s Called the Fundamental Attribution Error

When I understood this mental model it actually made me a more kinder, happier person! Particularly in situations at work, with colleagues and customers.

It’s called the fundamental attribution error. It has a name that sounds a bit complicated, but bear with it, because it’s actually quite a simple concept when broken down.

What is the Fundamental Attribution Error?

When we come up with an explanation for the behavior of others psychologists call it attribution.

We make this attribution in two distinctly different ways:

  1. Dispositional attribution the behavior was related to their disposition or character, to their personal characteristics
  2. Situational attribution — the behavior was related to the situation or circumstance that they were in, to contextual…

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Take a few minutes to earn an important mental model from math

Introducing one of the greats of the discipline of statistics — Sir Francis Galton! He brought us many crucial concepts including this mental model Regression to the Mean (RTM).

This one fools many on a daily basis, and can feel a little counterintuitive at times — which makes it all the more important to internalize into your personal latticework of mental models! 🧠

What is Regression to the Mean?

The phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement.

To understand this, let’s look at Sir Galton’s original study in 1886 — which compared heights of children to their parents. He measured the heights of hundreds of children who’d reached adulthood and the average height of their parents. …

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Photo: Mikito Tateisi

It’s called shoshin, and it’s about cultivating beginner’s mind

This post is all about a mental model that comes from Zen Buddhism. Don’t worry — these posts are still religiously agnostic, but that doesn’t mean I won’t shamelessly borrow useful mental models from religions! Enjoy.

What is Shoshin?

The Japanese term shoshin means “beginner’s mind” and can be further defined as follows:

Shoshin is an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even at an advanced level.

The mindset is characterized by openness — when we are in the shoshin mindset we are open and curious to possibility. …

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Photo by Alexander Redl

Learn what it is and why it matters, in just three minutes

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche might have been alluding to this mental model — hormesis — when he said:

That which does not kill me, makes me stronger.

This post is homing in on hormesis.

It’s a captivating concept that comes from the discipline of biology and medicine, but is hugely useful to recognize more broadly too! 💪

What is hormesis?

An adaptive response of cells and organisms to a moderate (usually intermittent) stress.

A good simple example of hormesis is exercise. When you exercise you’re putting your body under a moderate amount of stress — you’re actually doing a small amount of (temporary) damage to your body. If you hit the gym to lift some weights or go out for a long walk or run you are creating micro trauma — such as tiny tears in your muscles. When you get some rest later, interesting things start to happen — your body adapts to the stress of the exercise and it actually overcompensates by making you stronger and fitter. …


Julia Clavien

Curious to a fault. Technology | Psychology | Philosophy. All opinion subject to change. ☺

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