Coordinating Actions and Models


Daniel L. Schwartz

School of Education Stanford University Stanford, CA 94305-3096 (650) 736-1514


Abstract: Physical action can improve people's ability to complete analog inferences about distal events. For example, if without vision, people pull a string that turns a spool, this movement improves people's ability to imagine the rotation of a block on top of the spool. Similarly, tilting a glass can help people imagine the behavior of water in that glass, even if their eyes are closed and there is no actual water. The dominant model for this facilitation effect is that people map distance information from their movements into their mental updates through feed forward or feedback mechanisms. The current paper offers new evidence that people use the timing of their movement rather than its distance to drive their qualitative reasoning about the effects of action. This evidence suggests four constraints on the design of qualitative reasoning engines that coordinate with physical action and that attempt to maintain psychological fidelity.


Full Paper (DOC 1.29 MB)