The rewards and hazards of computer simulations

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86 Citations (Scopus)


Although computer simulations and other modeling tools have assumed a pivotal role in cognitive psychology, their utility continues to be questioned by some psychologists. This article presents several examples that illustrate both rewards and potential hazards associated with the simulation approach. Simulations can provide the formal framework necessary to disambiguate new ideas, they can explore the implications of complex models, and they can predict seemingly counterintuitive findings or uncover hidden relationships. At the same time, care must be taken to avoid pitfalls that may arise when computer code inadvertently differs from the intended specifications of a theory, or when predictions derive not from fundamental properties of a theory but from pragmatic choices made by the modeler.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-243
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes


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