Cognitive Science

Cognitive scientists develop computational models to understand human cognition. A decent computational model can show us that a given theory can be specified and allow us to predict behaviour in new situations. Mathematical models were used in experimental psychology long before the emergence of the information-processing paradigm (e.g., in IQ testing). These models can be used to make predictions, but often lack an explanatory component. For example, committing three traffic violations is a good predictor of whether a person is a bad risk for car insurance, but it is not clear why. One of the major benefits of the computational models developed in cognitive science is that they can provide both an explanatory and predictive basis for a phenomenon (e.g., Keane, Ledgeway, & Duff, 1994; Costello & Keane, 2000). We will focus on computational models in this section, because they are the hallmark of the cognitive science approach.

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