Modeling Theory of Mind and Cognitive Appraisal With Decision-Theoretic Agents

Cognitive Science Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 12180, Troy, NY, USA
Social Emotions in Nature and Artifact 05/2011; DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195387643.003.0006


Agent-based simulation of human social behavior has become increasingly important as a basic research tool to further our understanding of social behavior, as well as to create virtual social worlds used to both entertain and educate. A key factor in human social interaction is our beliefs about others as intentional agents, a Theory of Mind. How we act depends not only on the immediate effect of our actions but also on how we believe others will react. In this paper, we discuss PsychSim, an implemented multiagent-based simulation tool for modeling social interaction and influence. While typical approaches to such modeling have used first-order logic, PsychSim agents have their own decision-theoretic models of the world, including beliefs about their environment and recursive models of other agents. Using these quantitative models of uncertainty and preferences, we have translated existing psychological theories into a decision-theoretic semantics that allow the agents to reason about degrees of believability in a novel way. We demonstrate the expressiveness of PsychSim's decision-theoretic implementation of Theory of Mind by presenting its use as the foundation for a domain-independent model of appraisal theory, the leading psychological theory of emotion. The model of appraisal within PsychSim demonstrates the key role of a Theory of Mind capacity in appraisal and social emotions, as well as arguing for a uniform process for emotion and cognition.

Full-text preview

Available from:
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the last decade, research has increasingly focused on robots as autonomous agents that should be capable of adapting to open and changing environments. Developing, building and finally deploying technology of this kind require a broad range of ethical and legal considerations, including aspects regarding the robots’ autonomy, their display of human-like communicative and collaborative behaviour, their characteristics of being socio-technical systems designed for the support of people in need, their characteristics of being devices or tools with different grades of technical maturity, the range and reliability of sensor data and the criteria and accuracy guiding sensor data integration, interpretation and subsequent robot actions. Some of the relevant aspects must be regulated by societal and legal discussion; others may be better cared for by conceiving robots as ethically aware agents. All of this must be considered against steadily changing levels of technical maturity of the available system components. To meet this broad range of goals, results are taken up from three recent initiatives discussing the ethics of artificial systems: the EPSRC Principles of Robotics, the policy recommendations from the STOA project Making Perfect Life and the MEESTAR instrument. While the EPSRC Principles focus on the tool characteristics of robots from a producer, user and societal/legal point of view, STOA Making Perfect Life addresses the pervasiveness, connectedness and increasing imperceptibility of new technology. MEESTAR, in addition, takes an application-centric perspective focusing on assistive systems for people in need.
    No preview · Chapter · Jan 2015