On how humans run simulations for reasoning about physics

James R. Kubricht, Keith J. Holyoak, Hongjing Lu, Intuitive Physics: Current Research and Controversies, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 21, Issue 10, 2017, Pages 749-759, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2017.06.002.

Early research in the field of intuitive physics provided extensive evidence that humans succumb to common misconceptions and biases when predicting, judging, and explaining activity in the physical world. Recent work has demonstrated that, across a diverse range of situations, some biases can be explained by the application of normative physical principles to noisy perceptual inputs. However, it remains unclear how knowledge of physical principles is learned, represented, and applied to novel situations. In this review we discuss theoretical advances from heuristic models to knowledge-based, probabilistic simulation models, as well as recent deep-learning models. We also consider how recent work may be reconciled with earlier findings that favored heuristic models.

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