Episode 29: This is Like That: The Importance of Analogies

In talking about a game, we almost always make references to past games in order to describe or teach the new game. What does cognitive psychology have to say about analogy use, in terms of how prevalent and useful it really is?

Game References

Aeon’s End, Clank, Dominion, Paperback, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

Research References

Dunbar, K., & Blanchette, I. (2001). The in vivo/in vitro approach to cognition: The case of analogy. Trends in cognitive sciences, 5(8), 334-339.

Gick, M. L., & Holyoak, K. J. (1980). Analogical problem solving. Cognitive psychology, 12(3), 306-355.

Gick, M. L., & Holyoak, K. J. (1983). Schema induction and analogical transfer. Cognitive psychology, 15(1), 1-38.

Reed, S. K., & Bolstad, C. A. (1991). Use of examples and procedures in problem solving. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition17(4), 753.

Ross, B. H. (1984). Remindings and their effects in learning a cognitive skill. Cognitive psychology16(3), 371-416.

2 thoughts on “Episode 29: This is Like That: The Importance of Analogies

  1. How do analogies relate to schemas and mental models? Are you calling on a mental model during the mapping and application parts of analogies

    • Excellent question! The short answer is yes, that’s exactly how it’s done. As you can imagine, though, the devil’s in the details. However you encapsulate your previous knowledge, either through schemas or mental models, you will bring that into conscious awareness during the noticing phase, and then figure out what parts can stay the same and what parts need to be modified during the mapping and application phase. There are a number of different models out there that try to explain how it’s done. For my PhD dissertation back in the day, I investigated how to do this in a particular cognitive system, John Anderson’s ACT theory. Another theory that was trying to come up with a very detailed model of how we did this mapping process was the Structure Mapping Engine of Falkenheimer, Forbus & Gentner. That was a while ago and I haven’t kept up with that literature, but as you can tell given its name, it was centered on that mapping process, and tried to account for the psychological phenomena that I discuss in the podcast. Thanks for the question!

      Falkenhainer, B., Forbus, K. D., & Gentner, D. (1989). The structure-mapping engine: Algorithm and examples. Artificial intelligence, 41(1), 1-63.

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