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A Computational Cognitive Model of Reasoning in Tibetan Buddhist Monastic Debate

Mr. Stefan Riegl
Radboud University
Dr. Marieke Van Vugt
University of Groningen ~ Cognitive Modeling Group

In Tibetan monasteries, the education system relies heavily on a very specific style of debating that is at once exhilarating and intellectually rigorous. Relatively little research has been done on the psychological and neural mechanisms of this debate, which may be an interesting method for education around the world. Hence the formation of a theory of this practice is important. Here we present a computational theory of Tibetan monastic debate implemented in the ACT-R cognitive architecture. We complement the ACT-R model with graph theory to represent knowledge and show how we can capture the dynamic flow of a debate in our model. Future research should validate the model in its native population and enrich it with more detailed strategies. Nevertheless, we think it provides an interesting example of how the interactive process of debating can be modelled.

[APPENDIX] More resources Last updated 3 years ago

[1] The paper presented here can also be found here: [2] A poster of the research from earlier this year can be found here:

Mr. Stefan Riegl 0 comments

Thank you for this very interesting work! I wanted to ask whether you have found any information on whether people get better at detecting contradictions over time with this type of training. I was also wondering whether the correctness of the statements involved plays a role, such that for instance a contradiction might be more or less easy to ...

Nicole Cruz 1 comment
How do you build the knowledge graph? Last updated 3 years ago

Hi, thanks for the presentation! I'm curious how you build up the knowledge graph in the model and how you evaluate its accuracy. It seems quite a challenge to capture knowledge acquired over 20 years of debate! P.S. You refer to a paper and poster in the video but I can't find a link (the "Document" link on the conference website doesn't seem t...

Dr. Maarten van der Velde 1 comment
Cite this as:

Riegl, S., & Van Vugt, M. (2020, July). A Computational Cognitive Model of Reasoning in Tibetan Buddhist Monastic Debate. Paper presented at Virtual MathPsych/ICCM 2020. Via