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Theory of Mind and Social Simulation

A key factor in human social interaction is our beliefs about others, a theory of mind. Our actions are influenced by how we believe others will react. Our belief in a message depends not only on its content but also our beliefs about the communicator. Given its importance in human social interaction, modeling theory of mind can play a key role in enriching social simulations.


PsychSim is a multi-agent social simulation framework that operationalizes existing psychological theories as boundedly rational computations to generate more plausibly human behavior. A central aspect of the PsychSim design is that agents have fully specified decision-theoretic models of others. Such quantitative recursive models give PsychSim a powerful mechanism to model a range of factors in a principled way. For instance, we exploit this recursive modeling to allow agents to form complex attributions about others, enrich the messages between agents to include the beliefs and preferences of other agents, model the impact such recursive models have on an agent's own behavior, model the influence observations of another's behavior have on the agent's model of that other, and enrich the explanations provided to the user. The decision-theoretic models in particular give our agents the ability to judge degree of credibility of messages in a subjective fashion that can consider the range of influences that sway such judgments in humans.


  • Stacy Marsella, PhD
  • Lucile Callebert, Phd
  • Marion Roth, Intern

Former Personnel

  • Mei Si, PhD, RPI
  • Jonathan Ito, PhD, Amazon


  • Professor David Pynadath, University of Souther California, Institute of Creative Technologies