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Allen Newell's program of research: the video-game test

Gobet, Fernand ORCID: 0000-0002-9317-6886 (2017) Allen Newell's program of research: the video-game test. Topics in Cognitive Science, 9 (2). pp. 522-532. ISSN 1756-8757

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Identification Number: 10.1111/tops.12265


Abstract Newell (1973) argued that progress in psychology was slow because research focused on experiments trying to answer binary questions, such as serial versus parallel processing. In addition, not enough attention was paid to the strategies used by participants, and there was a lack of theories implemented as computer models offering sufficient precision for being tested rigorously. He proposed a three-headed research program: to develop computational models able to carry out the task they aimed to explain; to study one complex task in detail, such as chess; and to build computational models that can account for multiple tasks. This article assesses the extent to which the papers in this issue advance Newell's program. While half of the papers devote much attention to strategies, several papers still average across them, a capital sin according to Newell. The three courses of action he proposed were not popular in these papers: Only two papers used computational models, with no model being both able to carry out the task and to account for human data; there was no systematic analysis of a specific video game; and no paper proposed a computational model accounting for human data in several tasks. It is concluded that, while they use sophisticated methods of analysis and discuss interesting results, overall these papers contribute only little to Newell's program of research. In this respect, they reflect the current state of psychology and cognitive science. This is a shame, as Newell's ideas might help address the current crisis of lack of replication and fraud in psychology.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author
Divisions: CPNSS
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources > ZA4050 Electronic information resources
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2019 10:27
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2024 07:42

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