Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Simulation Theory

Simulation theory is an account of how people predict the behavior of others that is a reaction against "theory theory". Simulation theory was proposed by Robert Gordon (e.g. 1986). According to simulation theory, we do not predict the behavior of others by creating mental representations to be manipulated by logical rules. Instead, our own behavior control system is first taken off-line, and then is used as a model that can simulate (and therefore predict) behavior. In effect, we use our own body as an artifact to model another's. This is an example of a theory consistent with embodied cognitive science, and is also a theory that is consistent with the discovery of mirror neurons in the primate brain.


  1. Gordon, R. (1986) Folk psychology as simulation, Mind and Language, 1, 158–171

(Added November, 2009)