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Simulation models and theories in psychology

, : Simulation models and theories in psychology. Archivio di Psicologia Neurologia e Psichiatria 46(3-4): 607-616

The paper examines the concept of "models" and its connections with theoretical activities in order to clarify the epistemological nature of simulation models in psychology. In the first part it is argued that models, like theories, are tools aimed at formulating hypotheses about reality; unlike theories, however, they exhibit more selective and simplifying capacities and sometimes use symbolic systems that do not coincide with the investigated system, yet being analogous with it in some respect. On this ground a distinction is made among three types of simulation models in psychology: formal models, aimed at verifying the logical correctness of theories; analogic ones, whose purpose is to build psychological systems analogous to computer systems; simulation models in the true sense of this term, aimed at reproducing the psychological phenomena with computers. Somoe problems and limits of simulation models are eventually discussed (11 ref).

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