Intentional Action in Folk Psychology: An Experimental Investigation

Knobe, Joshua (2003) Intentional Action in Folk Psychology: An Experimental Investigation. [Journal (On-line/Unpaginated)] (In Press)

Full text available as:



Four experiments examined people’s folk-psychological concept of intentional action. The chief question was whether or not evaluative considerations — considerations of good and bad, right and wrong, praise and blame — played any role in that concept. The results indicated that the moral qualities of a behavior strongly influence people’s judgements as to whether or not that behavior should be considered ‘intentional.’ After eliminating a number of alternative explanations, the author concludes that this effect is best explained by the hypothesis that evaluative considerations do play some role in people’s concept of intentional action.

Item Type:Journal (On-line/Unpaginated)
Keywords:Intentional Action, Action Theory, Folk Morality, Folk Psychology, Intention
Subjects:Philosophy > Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy > Ethics
Psychology > Social Psychology
ID Code:2922
Deposited By:Knobe, Joshua
Deposited On:06 May 2003
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:55

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

ASTINGTON, J. W. (1999). The language of intention: Three ways of doing it. In P. D. ZELAZO, J. W. ASTINGTON, AND D. R. OLSON (Eds), Developing theories of intention. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

ASTINGTON, J. W. (2001). The paradox of intention: Assessing children’s metarepresentational understanding. In B. F., MALLE, L. J. MOSES, & D. BALDWIN (Eds), Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition. Cambridge, MA: M. I. T. Press.

BRATMAN, M. E. (1987). Intention, plans, and practical reason. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

CHURCHLAND, P. M. (1981). Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes. Journal of Philosophy, 78, 67-90.

CHURCHLAND, P. M. (1991). Folk psychology and the explanation of human behavior. In J. GREENWOOD (Ed.), The future of folk psychology: Intentionality and cognitive science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

GOPNIK, A., & WELLMAN, H. M. (1992). Why the child’s theory of mind really is a theory. Mind and Language, 7, 145-171.

GOPNIK, A., & MELTZOFF, A. (1997). Words, Thoughts and Theories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

HARMAN, G. (1976). Practical reasoning. Review of Metaphysics, 29, 431-463.

LOWE, E. J. (1978). Neither intentional nor unintentional. Analysis, 38, 117-118.

MALLE, B. F. & KNOBE, J. (1997a). The folk concept of intentionality. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 33: 101-121.

MALLE, B. F. & KNOBE, J. (1997b). Which behaviors do people explain? A basic actor-observer asymmetry. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 72, 288-304.

MALLE, B. F., KNOBE, J, O’LAUGHLIN, M. J., PEARCE, G. E., & NELSON, S. E. (2000). Conceptual structure and social functions of behavior explanations: Beyond person-situation attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 309-326.

MELE, A. (2001). Acting Intentionally: Probing Folk Notions. In B. F., MALLE, L. J. MOSES, & D. BALDWIN (Eds), Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition. Cambridge, MA: M. I. T. Press.

MELE, A. R. & MOSER, P. K. (1994). Intentional action. Nous, 28, 39-68.

MELE, A. R. & SVERDLIK, S. (1996). Intention, intentional action, and moral responsibility. Philosophical Studies, 82, 265-287.

PITCHER, G. (1970). ‘In intending’ and side effects. Journal of Philosophy, 67, 659-668.

SHAVER, K. (1985). The attribution of blame: Causality, responsibility and blameworthiness. New York: Springer.

WILKES, K. (1981). Functionalism, psychology, and the philosophy of mind. Philosophical Topics, 12, 1.

YOUNG, M. (2001). ‘It’s the thought that counts’: The role of perceived intention in making event explanations. MS. Stanford University.


Repository Staff Only: item control page