The brain is a wondrous instrument – it builds detailed mental models of how our world functions, storing a dizzying array of information based on historical observations that we’ve made. The purpose of these models, or schemas, is to provide us with a framework for decision making prior to committing to a given course of action.
It allows us to play out a scenario within the comfort of our own minds – it’s a sort of forecasting system, a Dopplar radar for social functions, that is designed to add a degree of predictability to our world. When you’re invited to a party, you quickly analyze the person who invited you, the other known guests, the venue, and any other information to make a quick run-through of the night.
Will it be fun? Will it be my scene? What time will I get home?
Your mind runs a explores simulations and then you make a judgement call whether or not to attend – and, if you do, what you should expect. The problem is, it often ends up being very wrong.