the building blocks of making

better decisions


Mental models are a way of explaining how things work. Throughout our lives, we build up a personal collection of mental models to understand the world around us.

Mental models aren't perfect but developing a rich toolbox of them can be useful in navigating the complexities of life. Learning to intuitively apply the right models in the right situations is something we develop with practice.

This website is a curated collection of models with broad applicability in everyday life. There’s a focus on brief descriptions and simple, real life examples of the models in use.

Weekly Mental Model

Social Proof

We tend to copy the behavior of others, especially during times of uncertainty.


Social proof is a term used to describe our tendency to follow the behavior of others. This tendency is amplified if we are uncertain about the situation. Social proof generally guides us into making fewer mistakes—if many folks are doing something, it’s usually the correct thing to do. However, this “auto-pilot” behavior can be easily exploited to manipulate our decision making process. For instance, to lead us towards a decision that serves someone else's interests or is incorrect.


  • Laugh tracks in TV shows and hired clappers in a theater performance can trick us into perceiving the content to be funnier or higher quality than it actually is.

  • Testimonials increase our likelihood of buying a product, especially when they indicate popularity. Terms like “best selling” or “recommended by 9 out of 10 professionals” are marketing applications of social proof.