Think again? The amount of mental simulation tracks uncertainty in the outcome

Jessica B. Hamrick, Kevin A. Smith, Thomas L. Griffiths, Edward Vul

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper, we investigate how people use mental simulations: do people vary the number of simulations that they run in order to optimally balance speed and accuracy? We combined a model of noisy physical simulation with a decision making strategy called the sequential probability ratio test, or SPRT (Wald, 1947). Our model predicted that people should use more samples when it is harder to make an accurate prediction due to higher simulation uncertainty. We tested this through a task in which people had to judge whether a ball bouncing in a box would go through a hole or not. We varied the uncertainty across trials by changing the size of the holes and the margin by which the ball went through or missed the hole. Both people's judgments and response times were well-predicted by our model, demonstrating that people have a systematic strategy to allocate resources for mental simulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2015
EditorsDavid C. Noelle, Rick Dale, Anne Warlaumont, Jeff Yoshimi, Teenie Matlock, Carolyn D. Jennings, Paul P. Maglio
PublisherThe Cognitive Science Society
Pages866-871
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780991196722
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Mind, Technology, and Society, CogSci 2015 - Pasadena, United States
Duration: Jul 23 2015Jul 25 2015

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, CogSci 2015

Conference

Conference37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Mind, Technology, and Society, CogSci 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityPasadena
Period7/23/157/25/15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

Keywords

  • computational modeling
  • intuitive physics
  • mental simulation
  • SPRT

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Think again? The amount of mental simulation tracks uncertainty in the outcome'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this