Mental models and reasoning

Authored by: Philip N. Johnson-Laird , Geoffrey P. Goodwin , Sangeet S. Khemlani

The Routledge International Handbook of Thinking and Reasoning

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138849303
eBook ISBN: 9781315725697
Adobe ISBN:


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The theory of mental models has a long history going back to the logic diagrams of C.S. Peirce in the nineteenth century. But it was the psychologist and physiologist Kenneth Craik who first introduced mental models into psychology. Individuals build a model of the world in their minds, so that they can simulate future events and thereby make prescient decisions (Craik, 1943). But reasoning, he thought, depends on verbal rules. He died tragically young, and had no chance to test these ideas. The current “model” theory began with the hypothesis that reasoning too depends on simulations using mental models (Johnson-Laird, 1980).

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