HOT Topics! Article: mental models
"[Interviewer:] So mental models are not only for understanding what there is now, but also for being able to cope with unexpected, unfamiliar situations?
[Norman:] A good question to ask is 'where is the mental model needed?' It's used in learning. I believe that if you have a good conceptual understanding it gives you a framework for learning. And it's of use in unexpected novel situations. But for normal performance you don't need it. Normal performance you do by rote memory. You just simply know that when this happens you do that. Mental models are almost no use for operating a device for routine operations. In fact mental models might get in the way. If you had to derive everything you did it would slow you up. "