Faulty Towers: A counterfactual simulation model of physical support

TitleFaulty Towers: A counterfactual simulation model of physical support
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGerstenberg, T, Zhou, L, Smith, KA, Tenenbaum, JB
Conference NameProceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Date Published07/2017
Keywordscausality, counterfactual, intuitive physics, mental simulation, support

In this paper we extend the counterfactual simulation model (CSM)  –  originally  developed  to  capture  causal  judgments about  dynamic  events  (Gerstenberg,  Goodman,  Lagnado,  & Tenenbaum, 2014) – to explain judgments of physical support. The CSM predicts that people judge physical support by men- tally  simulating  what  would  happen  if  the  object  of  interest were removed. Two experiments test the model by asking par- ticipants to evaluate the extent to which one brick in a tower is responsible for the rest of the bricks staying on the table. The results of both experiments show a very close correspon- dence  between  counterfactual  simulations  and  responsibility judgments. We compare three versions of the CSM which dif- fer in how they model people’s uncertainty about what would have happened. Participants’ selections of which bricks would fall are best explained by assuming that counterfactual inter- ventions only affect some aspects while leaving the rest of the scene unchanged.

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CBMM Relationship: 

  • CBMM Funded