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The Role of the Position Effect in Theory and Simulation

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We contribute to the empirical debate on whether we understand and predict mental states by using simulation (simulation theory) or by relying on a folk psychological theory (theory theory). To decide between these two fundamental positions, it has been argued that failure to predict other people’s choices would be challenging evidence against the simulation view. We test the specific claim that people prefer the rightmost position in choosing among equally valued objects, and whether or not this position bias can be correctly predicted. A series of experiments shows that the bias appears only in a specific spatial arrangement and that it can be correctly predicted given adequate imaginative input. In concert with other recent findings on the correct prediction of choices these findings do actually strengthen, rather than challenge, the simulation account on the prediction of mental states.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of PsychologyUniversity of Salzburg

Publication date: November 1, 2006


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