Mental Models: Chunking

Information grouped into familiar, manageable units is more easily understood and recalled.

How might this apply to great teams and cultures?

Chunking is a tool for getting around the bottleneck of short-term memory. The average person can only manipulate seven pieces of information in short-term memory, at a time. So, we try to keep our presentations concise, our recommendations in groups of three. The more a person has to learn in a shorter period of time, the more difficult it is to process that information.

How might this apply to great products?

Breaking down long lists (actions, content items, bullet points) into smaller groups makes that information easier to understand and recall. In terms of learned behaviors, we mentally “chunk” or categorize the details of routine events such as getting ready in the morning or thinking about the priorities of our day.


What are the mental routines people develop—on your site or elsewhere in your organization—to respond to specific situations many reveal areas for improvement?

See Also

Proximity, Uniform Connectedness, Status Quo Bias, Shaping, Sequencing, Familiarity Bias


In the whirl of our day-to-day interactions, it’s all too easy to forget the nuances that distinguish great teams, great cultures, and great products/services.

Mental Model Flash Cards bring together insights from psychology into an easy reference and brainstorming tool. Each card describes one insight into human behavior and suggests ways to apply this to your teams as well as the design of your products and services.