Cognition 194:104057 (2020)

When solving problems, like making predictions or choices, people often “sample” possibilities into mind. Here, we consider whether there is structure to the kinds of thoughts people sample by default—that is, without an explicit goal. Across three experiments we found that what comes to mind by default are samples from a probability distribution that combines what people think is likely and what they think is good. Experiment 1 found that the first quantities that come to mind for everyday behaviors and events are quantities that combine what is average and ideal. Experiment 2 found, in a manipulated context, that the distribution of numbers that come to mind resemble the mathematical product of the presented statistical distribution and a (softmax-transformed) prescriptive distribution. Experiment 3 replicated these findings in a visual domain. These results provide insight into the process generating people’s conscious thoughts and invite new questions about the value of thinking about things that are both likely and good.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.104057
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 57,156
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Subjective Probability as Sampling Propensity.Thomas Icard - 2016 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 7 (4):863-903.

View all 9 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On the Instrumental Value of Hypothetical and Counterfactual Thought.Thomas Icard, Fiery Cushman & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.
The Knobe Effect: A Brief Overview.Adam Feltz - 2007 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (3-4):265-277.
Water is and is Not H2O.Kevin P. Tobia, George E. Newman & Joshua Knobe - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):183-208.
The Neural Basis of the Interaction Between Theory of Mind and Moral Judgment.Liane Young, Fiery Cushman, Marc Hauser & Rebecca Saxe - 2007 - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104 (20):8235-8240.
Finding the Mind in the Body.Joshua Knobe - 2011 - In Max Brockman (ed.), Future Science: Essays from the Cutting Edge. Random House. pp. 184-196.
Theory of Mind and Moral Cognition: Exploring the Connections.Joshua Knobe - 2005 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (8):357-359.
A Common Framework for Theories of Norm Compliance.Adam Morris & Fiery Cushman - 2018 - Social Philosophy and Policy 35 (1):101-127.
From Embodied and Extended Mind to No Mind.Vincent C. Müller - 2012 - In Anna Esposito, Antonietta M. Esposito, Rüdiger Hoffmann, Vincent C. Müller & Alessandro Viniciarelli (eds.), Cognitive Behavioural Systems. Springer. pp. 299-303.


Added to PP index

Total views
44 ( #228,935 of 2,411,744 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
11 ( #60,578 of 2,411,744 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes