Did you have trouble the first time you tried to start a keyless car? Or perhaps the first time you took a panoramic picture? According to a well-known theory, these tasks were difficult because you had no mental models to guide you.
Mental models refer to the internal representations people form about the way things work in the external world. Theoretically, we rely on mental models to understand and interact with various systems of the world. According to this theory, you have thousands of mental models for everything from how to use a mobile phone to how to go through the security line at an airport or use an eLearning course.
Understanding and Predicting
Psychologists think that mental models are activated when we need to solve problems or perform tasks (Halford, 2014). Without mental models, you would have to figure things out from the start each time you encountered a new situation or a new problem.