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We are explanatory creatures: We develop explanations for the events of the world and for the actions of people, both ourselves and others. We find reasons, causes, explanations. All of these require us to create "mental models," mental scenarios in which we construct representative explanatory descriptions. Mental models allow us to understand prior experiences, the better to predict future ones. Mental models also give us guidance and assistance in knowing what to expect and how to respond in novel or dangerous situations.
By mental model is meant some kind of understanding of how the device works in terms of its internal structure and processes (cf. Halasz & Moran,1983; Norman, 1983)
[Kieras & Bovair, 1984, p. 255]
- Explorations in Learning & Instruction: The Theory Into Practice Database -- Mental Model (Greg Kearsley)
[Norman, 1993] Norman, Donald. Things That Make Us Smart, Addison Wesley. 1993, p. 119f. [Kieras & Bovair, 1984] Kieras, D. & Bovair, S. The role of mental models in learning to operate a device. Cognitive Science, 8, 255-273, 1984.