Formalizations of Commonsense Psychology

  • Andrew S. Gordon
  • Jerry R. Hobbs


The central challenge in commonsense knowledge representation research is to develop content theories that achieve a high degree of both competency and coverage. We describe a new methodology for constructing formal theories in commonsense knowledge domains that complements traditional knowledge representation approaches by first addressing issues of coverage. We show how a close examination of a very general task (strategic planning) leads to a catalog of the concepts and facts that must be encoded for general commonsense reasoning. These concepts are sorted into a manageable number of coherent domains, one of which is the representational area of commonsense human memory. We then elaborate on these concepts using textual corpus-analysis techniques, where the conceptual distinctions made in natural language are used to improve the definitions of the concepts that should be expressible in our formal theories. These representational areas are then analyzed using more traditional knowledge representation techniques, as demonstrated in this article by our treatment of commonsense human memory.