What’s on your mind, computer?


Suitable for:
Student, Bachelor or Master project


People are capable of inferring other persons’ (hidden) mental states when observing their behavior. This ability is often called Theory of Mind (ToM). The mental states that people are capable of inferring include, but are not limited to, another person’s goal or desire, beliefs, preferences, or even emotions. There are different theories on how humans inferentially build a ToM. The underlying mechanisms can be cognitively effortful and it has become quite clear that people use these capabilities to varying degrees.

At the same time, research has shown that people apply similar processes to artificial agents such as robots. That way people often attribute mental states to artificial entities (they tend to “anthropomorphize” them). But it is currently unclear whether and to what extent humans employ their ToM differently when observing artificial agents as compared to other humans.

In this student project or BA/MA thesis, you will carry out an online study to investigate empirically how humans “mentalize” about an artificial agent that they observe acting in a simplified environment.

Jan Pöppel