Metaphor and Mental Models
Sat, 17 Dec 1994 22:57:35 CST

Subject: Metaphors and Mental Models

I have only recently joined the L-O list and have recently seen some
references to metaphor (advantages, disadvantages) in the st
ews, etc. I am interested in
this topic because of some research that I am doing with the role
of metaphor
in facilitating learning organizaitions. Two references that I have
seen to metaphor and mental models have been John Clancy's (1989)
The Invisible Powers and Mary Mohan's (1993) Organizational
Communication and Cultural Vision. Clancy writes that metaphors
grow out of our paradigms or our world views. Mohan goes further
to call the metaphor the "graphic image" of our world views. While
we run the risk of "reifying" the metaphor in our explanations of
the world around us, our relationships to it, and basically how we
make sense of the world, there are a couple of things we need to be
aware of. First, we think in terms of metaphor. Everything we
learn is in terms of comparison to something else we are familar
with. Second, the more conscious we are of our "root metaphors" as
graphic images of our mental models, the more able we are to change
inappropriate, obsolete, dysfunctional, or simply ineffective
"mental models." Metaphor has more power over us when we are
totally unaware of its presence, than when we ARE aware of its
presence, regardless of how accurate the metaphor is that we hold
as operative.

Craig Carroll Priority Management
Abilene, TX USA