, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 133-149

The cognitive structure of surprise: looking for basic principles

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Abstract

We develop a conceptual and formal clarification of notion of surprise as a belief-based phenomenon by exploring a rich typology. Each kind of surprise is associated with a particular phase of cognitive processing and involves particular kinds of epistemic representations (representations and expectations under scrutiny, implicit beliefs, presuppositions). We define two main kinds of surprise: mismatch-based surprise and astonishment. In the central part of the paper we suggest how a formal model of surprise can be integrated with a formal model of belief change. We investigate the role of surprise in triggering the process of belief reconsideration. There are a number of models of surprise developed in the psychology of emotion. We provide several comparisons of our approach with those models.