The Big ‘Whoops!’ in the Study of Intentional Behavior: An Appeal for a New Framework in Understanding Human Actions

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Department of Psychology, Boston University, Cummington Hall, Boston, MA 02215, USA
  • | 2 * Corresponding author, e-mail:
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Distinguishing intentional behavior from accidental behavior is a crucial component of social cognition and a major developmental achievement. It has often been assumed that developmental changes in intentional reasoning result from a gradual sophistication in the ability to discern intentions in action. We take issue with this notion, demonstrating that data from cognitive, developmental, and social psychology are more consistent with the hypothesis that it is instead a gradual sophistication in the ability to understand accidents that drives developmental change.

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