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The role and impact of mental simulation in design

Christensen, BT and Schunn, CD (2009) The role and impact of mental simulation in design. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 23 (3). 327 - 344. ISSN 0888-4080

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Although theories of mental simulations have used different formulations of the premises of 'thought experiments', they can be fitted under a minimalist hypothesis stating that mental simulations are run under situations of uncertainty to turn that uncertainty into approximate answers. Three basic assumptions of mental simulations were tested by using naturalistic data from engineering design. Results from the design protocols showed (1) initial representations in mental simulation had higher than base-rate uncertainty, (2) uncertainty in mental simulations were lowered after simulation runs, (3) resulting representations had more approximations than base-rate or initial representations. Further, the reference to external representational systems (sketches and prototypes) was examined. It was found that prototypes had fewer technical/functional simulations compared to sketches or unsupported cognition. Although prototypes were associated with more approximation than unsupported cognition, the different external representation categories did not differ in information uncertainty. The results support the minimalist hypothesis of mental simulations. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Christensen, BT
Schunn, CDschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN0000-0003-3589-297X
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Learning Research & Development Center
Date: 4 June 2009
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume: 23
Number: 3
Page Range: 327 - 344
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1002/acp.1464
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0888-4080
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2014 16:46
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:56


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