Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford

Accidental/Intentional Experiment

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1105-1


Definition and Description

An experiment in which subject responses to purposeful (intentional) and unplanned (accidental) actions by an experimenter are measured as a means to identify whether an individual (human or nonhuman) understands the intentional actions of others. The intentional and accidental experiment is relevant to the topic of theory of mind, as it tests whether subjects understand intentional behaviors, one of the requisite components to understanding that others have thoughts and beliefs similar or separate to their own.

Two common variations of the accidental/intentional experiment use “accidental” and “intentional” actions of experimenters while indicating the location of rewards and “clumsy” and “competent” experimenters responsible for delivery of rewards. The basic premise of the experiment is that the subject must discriminate between the actions of the experimenter that will...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Washington UniversityEllensburgUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mark A. Krause
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern Oregon UniversityAshlandUSA