Mental models influence our thought and decision-making processes. We tend to draw conclusions based on our beliefs, prejudices, emotions, and experiences. This means that our perceptions are biased dependent on individual our beliefs. These beliefs influence our perception by predisposing us to see things in a way that confirms the beliefs we already have. In this case, it becomes difficult to change our thought and behaviour patterns because we adopt rigid or set beliefs that we use to judge and assess situations, people and systems.
The Ladder of Inference
The human thought process takes place in less than a second so it is difficult to realize our default reactions because they occur instinctively. We each give meaning to our observations and then base our actions on the meanings we have derived. The ladder of inference as developed by Senge illustrates a seven-step process of thinking and reasoning.
We select facts from our experiences and different events. These facts and observations based on the meaning we assign to them, form the basis of the assumptions we make regarding the event. From these assumptions, we then make conclusions that ultimately form our beliefs and values system. We then proceed to act based on the beliefs we have created. This thought process from observation to action occurs at a subconscious level. It occurs repeatedly every time we are exposed to stimuli.