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So Good It Has to Be True: Wishful Thinking in Theory of Mind

So Good It Has to Be True: Wishful Thinking in Theory of Mind In standard decision theory, rational agents are objective, keeping their beliefs independent from their desires. Such agents are the basis for current computational models of Theory of Mind (ToM), but the accuracy of these models are unknown. Do people really think that others do not let their desires color their beliefs? In two experiments we test whether people think that others engage in wishful thinking. We find that participants do think others believe that desirable events are more likely to happen, and that undesirable ones are less likely to happen. However, these beliefs are not well calibrated as people do not let their desires influence their beliefs in the task. Whether accurate or not, thinking that others wishfully think has consequences for reasoning about them. We find one such consequence—people learn more from an informant who thinks an event will happen despite wishing it was otherwise. People’s ToM therefore appears to be more nuanced than the current rational accounts in that it allows other’s desires to directly affect their subjective probability of an event. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Open Mind MIT Press

So Good It Has to Be True: Wishful Thinking in Theory of Mind

Open Mind , Volume 1 (2): 10 – Sep 7, 2017

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References (20)

Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
Copyright © MIT Press
eISSN
2470-2986
DOI
10.1162/OPMI_a_00011
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

In standard decision theory, rational agents are objective, keeping their beliefs independent from their desires. Such agents are the basis for current computational models of Theory of Mind (ToM), but the accuracy of these models are unknown. Do people really think that others do not let their desires color their beliefs? In two experiments we test whether people think that others engage in wishful thinking. We find that participants do think others believe that desirable events are more likely to happen, and that undesirable ones are less likely to happen. However, these beliefs are not well calibrated as people do not let their desires influence their beliefs in the task. Whether accurate or not, thinking that others wishfully think has consequences for reasoning about them. We find one such consequence—people learn more from an informant who thinks an event will happen despite wishing it was otherwise. People’s ToM therefore appears to be more nuanced than the current rational accounts in that it allows other’s desires to directly affect their subjective probability of an event.

Journal

Open MindMIT Press

Published: Sep 7, 2017

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