Commonsense Psychology and the Functional Requirements of Cognitive Models

Andrew S. Gordon

In this paper we argue that previous models of cognitive abilities (e.g. memory, analogy) have been constructed to satisfy functional requirements of implicit commonsense psychological theories held by researchers and nonresearchers alike. Rather than working to avoid the influence of commonsense psychology in cognitive modeling research, we propose to capitalize on progress in developing formal theories of commonsense psychology to explicitly define the functional requirements of cognitive models. We present a taxonomy of 16 classes of cognitive models that correspond to the representational areas that have been addressed in large-scale inferential theories of commonsense psychology. We consider the functional requirements that can be derived from inferential theories for one of these classes, the processes involved in human memory. We argue that the breadth coverage of commonsense theories can be used to better evaluate the explanatory scope of cognitive models, as well as facilitate the investigation of larger-scale cognitive systems.

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